Junior guard Tyler Whitney-Sidney goes up for a fastbreak layup during the Lehigh men's basketball team's game against Colgate at Stabler Arena on March 2. Lehigh lost 63-60. (Eddie Fuhrer/B&W Staff)

Lehigh men’s basketball falls to league-leading Colgate to finish regular season


A student section of fans of the Lehigh men’s basketball team so large that it extended to the 200-level cheered as junior guard Tyler Whitney-Sidney put the Mountain Hawks up one with 11:21 left in the first half during their game against Colgate.

Just five minutes later, that same crowd was silent.

Colgate (22-9, 16-2 Patriot) dealt a paralyzing 15-0 run that, despite a late comeback attempt by the Mountain Hawks (12-17, 9-9 Patriot), was too much to overcome in a 63-60 loss at Stabler Arena on Saturday.

The run is the latest in a pattern for the Mountain Hawks in the first half of home games. Lafayette and Bucknell were also able to build leads of upwards of 15 points that forced the Mountain Hawks to change their offensive game plan.

This time, Lehigh’s inability to come back in time cost them a chance at a home playoff game.

Entering the game, the second through sixth place teams in the Patriot League were separated by only one game. Lafayette and American were 10-7. Lehigh, Boston and Bucknell were all 9-8. Lehigh’s loss and Boston’s win mathematically eliminated the Mountain Hawks from hosting a quarterfinal game. 

Lehigh’s first-round opponent will be unknown until results around the league today are finalized but will be either American or Lafayette. If Bucknell defeats Lafayette tonight, Lehigh will face Lafayette. Otherwise, the Mountain Hawks will travel to the nation’s capital to play American.

Lehigh coach Brett Reed attributed the run to both his team shooting 16% from three-point range during the game and the strength of Colgate’s offense to take advantage of that.

“Colgate’s a good team,” Reed said. “They have the ability to make positive plays and they have multiple weapons.”

Those weapons were highlighted by a double-double from Colgate’s fifth-year forward Keegan Records, who brought down a crucial rebound on a missed free throw in the dying seconds to help Colgate secure the victory. Records finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. 

The Raiders also benefited from underclassmen production. Sophomore guard Braeden Smith finished with 11 points and first-year guard Jalen Cox had nine.

Colgate was able to keep Lehigh to a 35-25 deficit in the first half. A majority of Lehigh’s points came from Whitney-Sidney, who finished with 24 points. Whitney-Sidney’s last bucket of the game gave him his 1,000th career point.

The Mountain Hawks began to claw their way back in the game in the second half. Still, they were struggling to get rebounds and finished the game with 11 less than Colgate.

Senior forward Burke Chebuhar, who led Lehigh with seven rebounds, said Colgate’s rebounding ability forced him to focus on being aggressive and having good positioning.

“They sometimes play two or three bigs that are my height or taller,” Chebuhar said. “They’re a really physical team and they shoot good shots.”

As the Mountain Hawks fought back, they forced Colgate into committing 10 second-half turnovers. First-year guard Cam Gillus finished with a game-high five steals for Lehigh, including three in the second half.

“We kinda let the game get away from us in the first half,” Gillus said. “(The first half) pushed us back but I think we did a good job trying to fight back.”

After Gillus made a layup with 28 seconds left to cut the Colgate lead to 59-58, the Mountain Hawks got Colgate to the line with 16.8 on the clock. After sophomore guard Brady Cummins missed, Records got a crucial rebound, was fouled again and made both shots. After Whitney-Sidney responded with a layup, Colgate’s junior guard Nicolas Louis-Jacques got two more free throws to fall to secure the win.

Heading into the tournament on the back of two consecutive losses that ended Lehigh’s five-game winning streak, Reed remains optimistic that his team will be able to win games in the tournament.

“All the ingredients that led us to win games are still evident with our team,” Reed said. “The competitive nature, spirit and fight of our guys will put them in a position to be competitive irrespective of where we play or who we play.” 

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