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Lafayette Leads Lehigh, Charging Bison

By Ted Rossman

Tuesday, February 10

Navy (3-19, 0-9 PL) at American (12-11, 6-3 PL)
American was led by another strong game from senior PG Andres Rodriguez, who extended his Patriot League assist lead by dishing out 11 dimes against Navy in a 71-49 win. The Eagles took the early lead thanks to an 18-3 run in the first half, and didn’t look back, leading by 11 at the break and cruising to an easy victory.

American shot a sizzling 58 percent from the floor as the Eagles took advantage of Navy in the paint all night long, posting a 36-16 scoring advantage inside. The game’s leading scorer, AU’s Andre Ingram, put the game away with two straight jumpers as part of an 8-0 run after Navy had cut the once sizable American lead to 7 with 8:49 left. Ingram tallied 15 for the game.

Lehigh (14-8, 7-2 PL) at Bucknell (10-12, 6-3)
At Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg, Pa., Bucknell narrowly pulled out their seventh win in their last eight games, 64-63 against visiting Lehigh. In a back and forth game, reigning PL Player of the Week Charles Lee came up big again for the hosts, leading all scorers with 19.

In the first half, the Bison took advantage of a 20-5 run to lead 34-25 at halftime. It was a game of runs in the second half, as Lehigh used spurts of 7-0 and 11-2 to tie the game with under seven minutes remaining.

Jason Mgebroff led the way for Lehigh with 15 points, all of them coming in the second half. The game was tense down the stretch, with the lead continuing to see-saw between the two clubs. The Mountain Hawks led 63-61 with 15 seconds left as Bucknell moved the ball into the Lehigh frontcourt.

Kevin Bettencourt missed a long three-pointer, but Lee was Johnny on the spot for Bucknell, grabbing the rebound underneath. Rather than allow an easy lay-up to tie the game, Lehigh’s Nick Monserez fouled Lee. However, the officials whistled Monserez for an intentional foul, giving Bucknell two shots and the ball.

Lee calmly netted both free throws, and right off the inbounds pass Bettencourt was fouled on a drive to the hoop. With 7.6 seconds left on the clock, Bettencourt hit one of his two attempts. Lehigh’s Ra Tiah threw up a desperate runner in the lane as the clock expired, but it caromed off the rim, taking with it Lehigh’s share of first place in the league.

Wednesday, February 11

Lafayette (17-5, 8-1 PL) at Army (5-16, 2-7 PL)

Lafayette regained sole possession of first place in the league thanks to its 78-70 win over Army at West Point, N.Y. Mike Farrell paced a balanced Lafayette scoresheet with 16 points, tying his season-high. Four Leopards were in double-digits, led by Farrell and Jamaal Douglas. Winston Davis continued his dependable season by pouring in 16 points.

The game was back and forth for much of the first half, with Lafayette using a 13-2 run to take a six point advantage into the first half’s under 8:00 media timeout. The Leopards led by 5 at intermission, 44-39.

In half number two both teams struggled to regain their offensive rhythm. Between the 17:34 and 8:19 marks of the stanza, the teams combined to hit only three field goals. At the end of that stretch Lafayette led by 7, and after the Leopards netted a 7-0 spree to double the lead, it was all but over.

Colgate (11-11, 3-6 PL) at Holy Cross (10-12, 4-5 PL)

Holy Cross took advantage of a second-half drought by Colgate to improve its PL record to 4-5 and break a fifth place tie with the visiting Raiders. John Hurley scored 16 points, leading the way for Holy Cross. Colgate managed only nine points during a thirteen minute stretch midway through the second half, all of them by freshman Kendall Chones, who played well for the sixth straight game in relief of the injured Howard Blue. Chones finished with 19 points, tying his season high. Blue remains out indefinitely with a knee injury, but hopes to play in Colgate’s next game, a Saturday afternoon tilt against Army.

Friday, February 13

American (12-12, 6-4 PL) at Lehigh (15-8, 8-2 PL)

Lehigh used red-hot shooting to defeat American in a critical league match-up on Friday night at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pa., 86-65. Both teams shot over 50 percent in the first-half, with Lehigh holding a narrow 43-39 advantage.

A 15-3 Mountain Hawks run to open the second half iced this one, as Lehigh’s three guard tandem of Austen Rowland, Jose Olivero, and Ra Tiah swished and dished to the tune of a combined 65 points. Lehigh shot a mind-boggling 13-19 from beyond the arc, while American went ice cold from the floor in the second half, shooting 35 percent compared to 56 percent in the first half.

Rowland led all scorers with 29 (along with 9 assists), and was joined in double digits for Lehigh by Olivero with 18. The Mountain Hawks still have regular season title hopes, with a February 22 home game against Lafayette looming large on the schedule. American dropped to fourth place in the league with the loss, and will look to rebound against Holy Cross and Colgate next weekend.

Saturday, February 14

Holy Cross (10-13, 4-6 PL) at Lafayette (18-5, 9-1 PL)

Lafayette continued to live up to expectations as the pre-season pick to win the league as it posted a difficult 78-72 win over a surging Holy Cross club. The Crusaders – three-time defending league tournament champions – came into the game winners of two straight, and led 35-32 at the half.

Lafayette took advantage of 26-31 free throw shooting to win the physical battle. Lafayette’s pre-season All-League guard Justin DeBerry came alive in the second half, scoring 12 of his 16 in the decisive frame, including eight in a row during a 12-2 Lafayette stretch that gave them the lead with 10:48 remaining.

John Hurley led the Crusaders for the second straight game, scoring 13 in the loss. Holy Cross battled hard against the host Leopards, who improved their home record on the campaign to 11-0. The game was tied with as little as 5:31 left, but clutch Lafayette shooting down the stretch both from the floor and from the charity stripe was too much for Holy Cross to overcome.

Bucknell (11-12, 7-3 PL) at Navy (3-20, 0-10 PL)
Bucknell, winners of eight of its past nine and five in a row, was severely tested in Annapolis, Md. on Saturday afternoon before downing the host Midshipmen 54-52. Kevin Bettencourt continues to show that he is not the victim of a sophomore slump, as the defending league Rookie of the Year led all scorers with 17.

Remarkably, the Midshipmen led Bucknell by six, 44-38, with just 6:45 to go in this defensive struggle. However this proved to be the turning point as Bucknell ripped off 10 straight points, asserting themselves firmly in third place thanks to American’s loss at Lehigh a night earlier.

After a Charles Lee bucket and two free throws by Chris McNaughton, Bucknell’s defense forced three straight turnovers, all of which resulted in transition lay-ups, making the score 48-44 Bison with 3:00 remaining.

The win was Bucknell’s first ever at Navy in the conference’s 14 year history.

Army (6-16, 3-7 PL) at Colgate (11-12, 3-7 PL)
With a 68-63 win at Cotterell Court in Hamilton, N.Y., Army completed its first two-game sweep over Colgate since league play began in 1990-91. The win marked Army’s first triumph at Colgate since 1977. The Black Knights were led by Sean O’Keefe’s 15 points, and confounded Colgate all afternoon long with their stifling defense. On offense, Army slowed the game down, hitting numerous difficult shots as the shot clock expired. The Black Knights shot 56 percent from the floor compared to 43 percent for Colgate.

Mark Linebaugh tried to lead a heroic Colgate comeback in the final 50 seconds, as he knocked down back-to-back shots to draw Colgate back within seven. After Kyle Chones stole an Army pass and Jon Simon nailed another three, Colgate was within four with 17 seconds left. Army’s Travis Owsley missed a pair at the free throw line, and Colgate raced the other way. Linebaugh’s three-point attempt caromed away, however, and the Black Knights held on, capturing the season series and sixth-place tiebreaker from Colgate.

A Look Ahead
This Friday and Sunday marks the second to last weekend in the Patriot League’s regular season. Sunday afternoon four teams – American, Bucknell, Lehigh, and Navy – will hold Senior Day festivities.

With four games remaining for each club before the league tournament (March 6-7 in Upper Marlboro, Md., the championship March 13 at the highest remaining seed’s home court), Lafayette and Lehigh seem to be in a two horse race for the regular season title. Lafayette has the league’s most difficult weekend schedule, playing at third-place Bucknell on Friday night and second-place Lehigh on Sunday afternoon. With two wins the Leopards can all but claim the regular season trophy, but with a pair of losses, the door could be left wide open for either the Bison or Mountain Hawks to come scrambling in.

Lehigh and Bucknell, besides squaring off against front-runner Lafayette, each host Army in a game both must win in order to preserve their regular season title hopes.

Holy Cross has its sights set on the #4 seed in the league tournament, and no game is more important in that quest than Friday night’s 8 p.m. tilt at American (DirecTV Channel 615, the Patriot League “Game of the Week”). The Eagles won at Holy Cross earlier this season, 62-59, and the Crusaders must rebound if they wish to move up from the league’s bottom half. This game is also very possibly a Patriot League Quarterfinal preview.

On Sunday afternoon Holy Cross visits Navy for Senior Day in Annapolis, while American hosts Colgate, a team it hung on to beat 74-71 on the road on January 23.

The reeling Raiders visit Navy and the aforementioned Eagles, looking to get back on track in a season that is quickly careening off the tracks. Colgate had not lost back-to-back games all season until February 1, but the team has struggled of late, losing 4 of its last 5.

As for the Midshipmen, they look for their first conference win of the season as they host Colgate and Holy Cross. Navy was ripped at the Hart Center 88-54, but played Colgate to a tight 91-84 decision in Hamilton. Sunday afternoon marks not only the last home game for Navy’s three seniors but also for Coach Don DeVoe who is retiring after 12 seasons at the Academy, having compiled a 182-158 mark and three NCAA Tournament appearances while at the school. Overall, DeVoe has coached 31 seasons with an overall mark of 510-386. He has led three different schools to the NCAA Tournament.

Patriot League Men’s Basketball Standings
Lafayette           9-1        18-5

Lehigh               8-2        15-8

Bucknell            7-3        11-12

American          6-4        12-12

Holy Cross        4-6        10-13

Army                3-7        6-16

Colgate             3-7        11-12

Navy                 0-10      3-20



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