Army Comeback Attempt Falls Short At Lehigh

Final Stats: Lehigh 78, Army 66

BETHLEHEM, Pa.  – Lehigh’s CJ McCollum scored 33 points to lead the Mountain Hawks to a 78-66 victory over Army in Saturday night’s Patriot League men’s basketball game at Stabler Arena. The Black Knights outscored Lehigh 39-33 in the second half, but could not overcome a 22-point first-half deficit.

Army (13-11, 3-7 Patriot League) has now lost two in a row and four consecutive games on the road. Lehigh (16-9, 7-3 Patriot League) has won eight of nine at home.

The Black Knights trailed by 22 in the opening period and by 19 with 10:03 left, but fought back to get within 10 points. Army held the Mountain Hawks without a field goal for the final 5:46, but they were able to score their final 10 points from the free throw line. Army went four minutes, 16 seconds between field goals before freshman G Jason Pancoe tipped in a rebound with 32.6 seconds left for the Black Knights’ final points.

Junior F Jeremy Hence scored a career-best 14 points, including 11 in the second half. Hence scored nine consecutive points during one stretch of Army’s comeback attempt. Sophomore G Julian Simmons and senior F Cleveland Richard added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Pancoe posted a career-high nine markers, the first points of his career. Senior C Chris Walker led the team with six rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Junior G Mitch McDonald played 19 minutes, including most of the second half, and posted career highs with six assists and four steals while committing just two turnovers.

McCollum made 11 of his 17 shot attempts, including a 6-for-9 showing from three-point range. He also tied for the team lead with seven rebounds. Marquis Hall added 14 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals. Zahir Carrington snared seven boards.

Army finished the game at 40.4 percent from the field, including an 8-for-22 showing from three-point range. Lehigh shot 53.1 percent for the game and was 9 of 19 from long distance. Lehigh also had a 35-31 rebounding edge.

The Army bench, led by Hence and Pancoe, scored a season-high 41 points. The Black Knights’ starters accounted for only 25 points, 24 of which came from Simmons and Richard. The Army starting five shot 8 for 20 with three players not making a field goal.

Army missed its first three shots and going scoreless for the first four minutes, 30 seconds. The Mountain Hawks scored the first seven points of the game before Richard ended Army’s drought with a three-pointer.

Lehigh responded with a 9-0 run to lead 16-3 with 13:32 left on the first-half clock. Army closed within 10 at 18-8 after a Simmons jumper, but again the Mountain Hawks answered with another 9-0 spurt to take a 27-8 advantage with 9:19 left.

Army scored nine of the next 12 points on a three-point play by senior F Jon Sizemore, a three-pointer by senior G Tyrell Thompson and Pancoe’s first career triple to make it 30-17 with 5:50 left. McCollum went to work for the Mountain Hawks hitting three three-pointers as they opened up a 45-23 lead with 1:10 to go in the opening period. The Black Knights scored the final four points on a three-pointer Hence and a free throw by Simmons, sending Army into the locker room down 45-27.

McCollum led all scorers in the first half with 14 points, including four three-pointers. Simmons, Pancoe and Sizemore paced the Black Knights with five points each. Army started the first half 3 for 14 from the floor, but hit six of its last 10 attempts to close the half at 37.5 percent. Lehigh shot 58.6 percent overall and stroked six triples in 12 tries. Hall handed out six of the Mountain Hawks’ 12 first-half assists.

Army opened the second half by scoring 10 of the first 15 points of the second half to get within 13 points at 50-37 with 14:51 to go. Simmons scored five of the Black Knight’s 10 points during the spurt. Lehigh answered with a 14-8 run to go back up by 19 points at 64-45 at the 10:03 mark.

The Black Knights were able to chip away at the lead, cutting the deficit to just 10 points on two occasions. Lehigh was 7 for 10 from the free throw line in the last two minutes, including four straight makes by McCollum.

The Black Knights have now lost eight straight regular-season games at Stabler Arena.

Army plays its final road game of the regular season on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at American. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. The Black Knights won the first meeting of the season with the Eagles, 68-48 at Christl Arena.

Game Notes:  With Lafayette’s win over Navy and Colgate’s double-overtime victory against American, Lehigh is now in sole possession of first place in the Patriot League, while Army occupies the eight spot … Army has  now lost six straight games when shooting at least 20 three-pointers in a game … Jordan Springer was not in uniform due to a back injury … The Black Knights are now 1-10 this season when allowing at least 60 points and 0-7 when giving up at least 70 points … Army made 20 of its last 43 shot attempts after its 3-for-14 start … the Black Knights committed 17 turnovers to drop to 4-9 when turning it over at least 15 times … Josh Miller was held scoreless for the first time in 46 games … Army assisted on 16 of its 23 field goals … CJ McCollum is the second player to score at least 30 points against the Black Knights this season (Chris Harris, Navy, 30) … Army broke a three-game streak of shooting below 40 percent.

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