Courtesy of LehighSports.com
HAMILTON, N.Y. – The Lehigh men’s basketball team erased a 13-point first-half deficit to take multiple second-half leads, but Colgate outscored the Mountain Hawks 26-6 over a stretch of 7:48 to turn a 60-59 Lehigh lead into an 85-66 Raiders’ advantage, on the way to the 91-78 final on Saturday at Cotterell Court. The loss marks Lehigh’s first Patriot League defeat of the season as it falls to 10-5, 3-1 in league play. Freshman Nic Lynch helped spark the Mountain Hawks in the first half, scoring 12 straight Lehigh points. Classmate Joe Foley provided a spark as well, scoring a career-high seven points along with three rebounds and two assists.
“I felt like we ended up fighting hard to bring it back into a pretty competitive game, but the final eight to ten minutes fell apart a little bit,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “It seemed like we ran out of gas. We were a step slow in the beginning of the game and what seemed to be a step slow towards the end of the game. Part of it was self-induced; the shot selection and even the turnovers and poor decisions we had in the first half led to some easier opportunities for Colgate and allowed them to start feeling pretty good basketball.”
Junior Pat Andree led the offense with 14 points, shooting 4-of-7 from three-point range. Classmate Jordan Cohen had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists while Lynch finished with 12 on 4-of-5 shooting, including 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Sophomore James Karnik tallied 10 points and eight rebounds, four of which were on the offensive glass. Sophomore Caleb Bennett scored all eight of his points in the second half.
“Fortunately, Nic Lynch entered in the first half and really grounded us, gave us some good shot attempts and got us solidified so we could creep right back into the game,” said Reed. “Joe Foley came in and gave us some excellent minutes towards the end of the first half, playing hard and moving the basketball. Then we were right there for a good portion of the beginning of the second half. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t keep pace with a Colgate team that scored far easier than I would like to see, as an opponent coach. Jordan Burns seemed to do anything he wanted tonight, whether it was scoring or assisting, along with their two forwards (Rapolas Ivanauskas and Will Rayman).”
Burns and Ivanauskas each scored 23 points to lead the Raiders while Rayman added 20.
Lehigh jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, but Colgate came back with a vengeance, posting a 20-2 run to take a 22-9 advantage, forcing a Lehigh timeout with exactly 12 minutes left in the first. That’s when Lynch stepped up in a big way, scoring 12 straight Mountain Hawks’ points, the last an offensive rebound and putback to pull Lehigh within 31-21 with 6:22 on the first-half clock.
Colgate’s lead reached 11 again, but the Mountain Hawks ended the half on a 10-2 run, sparked by a pair of Andree treys, to pull Lehigh within 39-36 at the half.
Trailing 47-42 early in the second, Lehigh used a 9-2 run, capped off by a Bennett three-pointer, to give the Mountain Hawks a 51-49 lead with 14:00 on the clock. The ensuing nine minutes saw nine lead changes, including a nifty pass from Bennett to Karnik for a dunk.
However, after a Jeameril Wilson layup with 10:51 remaining, the Mountain Hawks scored just four points the next 7:48 and Colgate took advantage, scoring 26 points in that span to take an 85-66 lead, on the way to the 91-78 final.
For the game, the Mountain Hawks shot 51.6 percent from the field (32-of-62), including 45.0 percent from three-point range (9-of-20). Colgate finished at 53.7 percent (36-of-67) and 36.7 percent from behind the arc (11-of-30). Lehigh won the battle of the boards, 36-31. The Mountain Hawks turned the ball over 15 times to just five turnovers for Colgate.
The Mountain Hawks return home for two straight, hosting American on Wednesday (Jan. 16) and Bucknell on Saturday (Jan. 19). Both games will tip off at 7 p.m.