Chris Bengel (@clbengel)
In a game that was littered with lead changes, the Mountain Hawks couldn’t hold their final one late in the game.
While holding a 79-78 lead with seven seconds remaining, senior guard C.J. McCollum was hit with a key travelling call and it resulted with a game-winning layup by senior guard Frankie Dobbs to give Bryant a 80-79 victory over Lehigh.
McCollum played a phenomenal game in which he scored a game-high 34 points (9-of-18 shooting, 6-of-10 from three) despite battling an ankle injury. It was the fourth time this season that the Ohio native netted at least 30 points.
However, his turnover in the waning moments of regulation proved to be the difference.
Every time the Mountain Hawks drew closer, Bryant would counter with a basket of their own. Trading baskets was the common theme in the second half to say the least.
The Bulldogs shot 46-percent (12-for-26) from three-point range and made their first five attempts from long range.
With 18:01 remaining in the first half, Bryant took an 8-7 lead courtesy of a Dyami Starks three. The Bulldogs held their lead for the duration of the half and shot 56-percent (9-for-16) from beyond the three-point line.
Bryant held a 44-40 lead at the break with sophomore guard Joe O’Shea (12 points), junior forward Alex Francis (11), and sophomore guard Dyami Starks (11) leading the charge.
Despite trailing at halftime, the Mountain Hawks shot 50-percent (15-for-30) in the first stanza. McCollum led the way with 13 points while junior guard Mackey McKnight had 10.
Lehigh went on a 14-5 run to open the second half. However, the Bulldogs were able to regain the lead.
With 12:16 remaining, Dobbs scored five straight points to give Bryant a 60-56 lead. The quick lead change caused Brett Reed and the Mountain Hawks to call a timeout.
Dobbs was a huge key to Bryant down the stretch as he scored 17 points (7-of-1o shooting) and grabbed five rebounds while dishing out five assists.
With 4:37 left, McCollum nailed a pair of free throws and converted a game-tying three-pointer to knot the game up at 71.
Saturday night’s loss was incredibly deflating for a team that was searching for its ninth consecutive win after losing two of their first three games.
The Mountain Hawks have an entire week off before facing Virginia Commonwealth next Saturday at 5:30 p.m.