FAIRFIELD, CT (November 25, 2012) - The Lehigh Mountain Hawks got 26 points from senior guard C.J. McCollum to spoil Sacred Heart's home-opener Sunday afternoon in the Pitt Center, dealing the Pioneers a 91-77 loss. SHU's Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) finished with 18 points on six-of-15 shooting in the loss as SHU drops to 2-3 on the season.
Lehigh (4-2) never trailed on Sunday and shot 50.8 percent (32-63) from the field an buried 12-of-22 from behind the arc. McCollum finished eight-of-14 with five three's to lead four players in double figures. The senior All-American candidate got his team off to a fast start, hitting a jumper and a three on Lehigh's first two possessions.
The Pioneers (2-3) pulled within a bucked at 15:27 as Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) buried a three but a second McCollum three and Conory Baltimore free throws pushed it to 17-8 seven minutes in. SHU's inside tandem of Justin Swidowski (Cinnaminson, NJ) and Femi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia) converted a pair of shots in the paint and Gibson hit a three to get the Pioneers to within 22-16 with 10:54 left.
From there, the Mountain Hawks pulled away thanks to a 20-5 run. McCollum buried his third triple and followed that with a steal and dunk as Lehigh built a 42-24 lead with 6:12 left in the half. SHU cut it to 14 with 35 seconds left as freshman De'Aires Tate (Lithonia, GA) hit a jumper and had a chance for more but a steal and lay-in by Corey Schaefer just beat the halftime horn for a 49-33 Lehigh lead.
Lehigh left no doubt in the opening minutes of the second half, working their lead to its high-water mark at 69-39 with 14:18 left. Holden Greiner and McCollum drilled three's and Gabe Knutson capped another 20-5 run with a tip-in at 14:18. The Mountain Hawks lead hovered around the 20-point mark for most of the second half before a late SHU run cut it back to 14 where it would go final, 91-77.
The Pioneers had four players find double figures as well in the loss. Swidowski notched his first double double of the season with 10 poitns and 10 rebounds. Junior Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) had 13 points while r-sophomore Steve Glowiak (New Britain, CT) came off the bench for 13 of his own.
Lehigh's Knutson scored 18 while Greiner hit three of four from three on his way to 17 points. Stefan Cvrkalj came off the bench for four three's and finished with 14 points. The Mountain Hawks used 21 SHU turnovers, a season-high, to scored 26 points at the other end.
Sacred Heart is back in action on Thursday, November 29th when head to Brown University.