This was a big game and a lot of folks might not have known 'til they got there why there were so many NBA people at the game: they were there to see the D1 leading scorer play against a tough defensive team. CJ McCollum of Lehigh only got four points, all from the free throw line and was 0-5 from the field. McCollum came into Richmond averaging 25.7 ppg, but he had a tough night...I'll talk about him in my next article. The game was a defensive thriller that was in doubt 'til the end.
Lehigh University v. Virginia Commonwealth...January 5, 2013
VCU beat Lehigh 59-55...I watched the game on the web so I could catch the stats. They were revealing and also troubling: VCU needed all the extra possessions they got because they were floating up a lot of errant threes. Here's where I got the game stats. As time wound down I was thinking the Mountain Hawks would connect on some threes and retake the lead...this would be a bad team to have to foul to regain the lead. This is the number one three-point shooting D1 team in the country. They're also way too confident at the line. VCU it turns out was the team that was being fouled at the end: Lehigh just reached the 7-foul plateau in the last minute so they really couldn't foul to catch up at the end.
As usual the Rams had a team speed advantage over their opponent: the steal advantage over Lehigh was 16 to 4 but these didn't translate into the points they should have or that they wanted. VCU shot 5-27 from three-point distance while Lehigh on far fewer shots outscored VCU from long distance: they were 6-18 from way out. The game was close; it was uncomfortably close for me as a writer of and, I admit it, for the Rams.
This Lehigh Mountain Hawks team surprised me because Virginia Commonwealth has been having cupcakes since early December with a lot of icing on them...I saw Lehigh at 9-3 and thought so what...but I looked and found this team was also the number two free throw shooting team in D1. The Rams shot 10-11 from the line to Lehigh's 13-18 which is still pretty good shooting for an entire team.
In the first half VCU built a 10-point lead which evaporated by half time where VCU found themselves trailing 30-29 going into the break. The Rams put up more shots in the first half but Lehigh was hitting their foul shots and somehow led at half despite launching five fewer shots.
For the game there were four double-figure scorers...for VCU Treveon Graham had 17 points and Troy Daniels had 11 points. Lehigh's leading scorer was Holden Greiner with 17 points followed by Gabe Knutson with 10.