During the 31 days of March, we feature some of the greatest moments from the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in the history of ASN's family of schools. Today: Lehigh.
Lehigh claims a world-class athlete in wrestler Bobby Weaver, the only Lehigh athlete to win an Olympic medal. He pinned all three opponents to earn gold at 105.5 pounds in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games.
Lehigh boasts the oldest, and one of the greatest, college football rivalries. The Mountain Hawks and Lafayette have played 151 games in the game's longest continuous rivalry.
Lehigh also can brag about its NCAA Division II football championship beating Jacksonville State 33-0 in 1977 along with 27 individual championships in NCAA Division I wrestling.
A lot of great moments.
However, the moment judged the greatest in Lehigh history is also one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history.
On March 16, 2012, the Mountain Hawks stunned No. 2 seed Duke 75-70 in the NCAA Tournament. They became the sixth No. 15 seed to win, earning the praise of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“The game is a great game. I’ve been in it for 37 years, and it takes you to incredible highs, and it also takes you to incredible lows," he said after the game. "Tonight’s one of those lows.”
For Lehigh, it was an incredible high.
“I sit here humbled today by these wonderful student-athletes," Lehigh head coach Brett Reed said. "(They) have invested so much time into their academic pursuits, building character, being unified as a team and ultimately fighting through a great deal of adversity through an entire season to grow and learn together.”
C.J. McCollum, a 6-4 junior guard, led Lehigh with 30 points, six assists, seven rebounds and two steals. Krzyzewski said McCollum was the best player on the court.
"He's been their player of the year," Coach K added, "and he's really one of the outstanding players in the country. You could see why tonight."
With North Carolina fans cheering them on, the Mountain Hawks led most of the first half despite shooting 38% from the field.
"I've never seen anything like it," Lehigh's Justin Maneri said. "We came to the practice the other day and as soon as you walked in they were going crazy for us and we're like, 'What's going on?' They were like, 'Go Lehigh, beat Duke!' They were screaming. It was nice to have fans here that weren't Duke. I've never seen two schools that hate each other so much."
Maneri broke a 42-42 tie with a layup with 12:30 remaining. McCollum's 3-pointer gave Lehigh a 47-42 lead and the Mountain Hawks took the lead for good with 8:21 to play on Mackey McKnight's 3-pointer.
Lehigh's Gabe Knutson added 17 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line.
“We were definitely confident coming in, because we didn’t have anything to lose,” McCollum said after the game. “Everyone except for our family members predicted us to lose, so there was no pressure on it. The pressure was all on them."
The Mountain Hawks lost to Xavier 70-58 in the second round, but Sports Illustrated listed their victory against Duke as one of the 10 biggest NCAA tournament upsets of the last decade.
"It means a lot as a team, a family and as the Patriot League in general," McCollum said after the game. "We wanted to come out here and protect this team and this family, get the win and we did that tonight."
Lehigh hasn't been back to the NCAA Tournament, but McCollum continues to get better. The 10th player selected in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, he was voted the NBA's Most Improved Player this season.