With both teams sitting precariously atop the Patriot League standings, both teams know that it's crucial that they take care of business the rest of the way. Four more games, that is. And that means taking care of Colgate tonight in both Bethlehem, PA and Hamilton, NY. (more)
While it's hard to argue with a 22-3 record, a Real Time RPI rating of 53 and a nine game winning streak, for those "glass half empty" types the Lady Hawks haven't been as sharp offensively in their last four games, scoring under 60 points in each contest. Still, on the road last weekend Lehigh held Army to a season-low point output as they suffocated the Lady Knights 49-39, despite holding a slim 15-13 lead at halftime. While head coach Sue Troyan is mostly noted by me as being the zen-master on the sidelines, I bet she wasn't holding any punches back at halftime. “I was most disappointed with the effort in the first half,” she said with great understatement. “We were going through the motions and we just weren’t sharp. After playing soft in the first half I thought we did a much better job in the second half. I was pleased with our offense and defensively we did a good job of limiting their looks at the basket.”
After halftime, it was - who else - junior G Erica Prosser and junior F Courtney Dentler, who spurred a 7-2 run to jump to a 9 point lead. Prosser scored 13 of her 15 points after the break, while Dentler added 5 of her 11 points to allow Lehigh to keep their streak alive.
After their win, the Lady Hawks got a present: for the first time in their history, they received four votes in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' poll. Inerestingly, two of their three losses this season came from the No. 20-ranked team in the nation (Vanderbilt) and from another team receiving votes just ahead of Lehigh (Princeton).
Tonight they face an improving Colgate squad - who has won three of their last four - but proved last Saturday they have a long way to go to catch the elite of the Patriot League after an 82-47 shellacking at the hands of co-Patriot League leaders American. Last time against Lehigh, Colgate lost a 57-45 slugfest where Lehigh had another sluggish first half but responded in the second to win the game. To win tonight, sophomore C Alexa Williams will have to solid defensive job once again on Colgate sophomore C Tricia Oakes, the Lady Raiders' leading scorer (10.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg). When they played last time, Williams held Oakes to 8 points and 3 rebounds.
The game will be televised on Service Electric 2 in the Lehigh Valley, called by Mike Zambelli and Jim Wills, and broadcast online through Patriot League All-Access on CBS Sports. You can listen to the game for free with Jeff Tourial on the call on 91.3 WLVR in the Lehigh Valley or on Lehighsports.com.
Fresh off a demoralizing loss at home to Navy, men's basketball coach Brett Reed knew his team needed to respond at home against Army this weekend in order to stay in the race. They did - with an emphatic 78-66 victory - and got an additional present when Navy fell at Lafayette 83-77. That gave Lehigh sole possession of first place - and control of their own destiny. With home court advantage in the playoffs for the regular season champion on the line, finishing strong is critical.
Freshman G C.J. McCollum just continues to dazzle, it seems, every time he comes on the court for the Mountain Hawks. At Christl Arena last weekend he netted 33 points, bringing his season average to 17.5 points a game. Besides a stretch early in the season when he was adjusting to reality as a starter, he's scored in double figures in the last fourteen games and in 21 of his first 25 games in Division I, while averaging more than 22 points a game in Patriot League play. And an underrated part of his game as well is his rebounding: on Saturday he had 6 boards, bringing his season average up to 4.5 per game.
Lehigh fans hope that "Jay-Z" - McCollum and senior F Zahir Carrington (10.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg) can keep an "Empire State of mind" and keep the party going versus Colgate. But the Raiders, winners of three of their last five, pose a dangerous road test for the Hawks. At home, Colgate has won six of their last eight games (their latest a 75-74 double-overtime thriller against American) and won't be easy to beat with senior F/G Kyle Roemer (19.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and sophomore C Yaw Gywau (15.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) providing a tough rebounding duo for Lehigh to face. Crucial to Lehigh's chances will be for Carrington and freshman F Gabe Knutson to at least play the Raiders even under the boards - and let "Jay" and senior G Marquis Hall do their thing to get the victory.
The game will be broadcast online through Patriot League All-Access, and you can listen to the game for free with Matt Kerr on the call on AM 1230 and 1320 in the Lehigh Valley or on Lehighsports.com.