Lehigh opened up Patriot League play in style at Stabler this afternoon, taking Holy Cross out back to the woodshed and chopping them apart in a true team effort. Lehigh won their opener in impressive fashion, blowing out the Crusaders by 32 points, and putting up 79 without the talents of CJ McCollum.
Playing in their first real game minus their All American, I’m not counting the D3 scrimmage from earlier in the week, Lehigh showed that anyone who thinks their going to fold just because a brother of theirs is out with an injury is crazy. Lehigh showed that anyone who thinks this was a one man band is crazy. This team is deep and talented and it was a total team effort today in Bethlehem.
The leaders of this team lead the way, as the top 3 scorers left on this team all played well and hit for double figures. Mackey lead the way with 16, and scored in a variety of ways. Mackey drilled home 2 trifectas, had some nice pull-ups and intermediate range jumpers, and had some transition buckets at the rim. Mackey was an energizer bunny out there for the Brown & White. Holden was just as effective by pouring in 15 for the Mountain Hawks, including 4 triples. Holden added 6 boards and 3 blocked shots, truly stuffing the stat sheet. I think he drew 2 charges as well for Lehigh, and he played with raw emotion and energy that was contagious. Gabe had some nice buckets and finished with 12 points.
Lehigh’s depth showed off big time today, as the eight players earned double figure minutes all chipped in atleast 5 points. There were some really positive performances including D’Orazio. Anthony continues to play well for Lehigh, he showed some active hands on defense that lead to some transition offense, and some nice shake and bake to the tin for some buckets. BJ continues to shake some rust off the tires, and this was by far his best game of the season after missing almost the entire non-conference slate with a concussion. BJ was active, hit some 3-balls, and took the ball to the tin. Bailey adds another dimension to this team as he is a long and athletic guard who can defend multiple positions, and if he can continue to chip in and add to the offensive attack Lehigh will be in good shape. Schaefer continues his solid play with some phenomenal assists including the highlight off the game when he threw a behind the back bounce pass to a trailing Knutson on a fast break opportunity that Gabe finished at the rim. Without question though, the biggest impact off the bench for Lehigh was Justin Goldsborough. Goldy as he is known by some, had his best game of his short Freshman campaign, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. This was the coming out party for the freshman big man, and he finished with 10 boards including 4 on the offensive end. Goldy showed great energy, hustle, and grit as he battled Holy Cross bigs down low. Lehigh has been looking for a front court compliment to Gabe and Holden, and maybe Justin is ready to put a stranglehold on that 3rd big man spot behind the two senior front court men.
Spielberg or Scorsese couldn’t have written a better script for how today went, honestly, the good Dr has to be pleased with the effort of his squad. Lehigh held serve on home court verus what looked to be a top half PL team in Holy Cross. To win by 32 without CJ was a great effort, and truly showed that this is a TEAM, a TEAM that believes in itself and has a lot of talent up and down the roster.
Big test in game 2 down in American, where Lehigh will have revenge on its mind as AU took it to Lehigh down in DC last year.