Posted: January 20, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Freshman Marquis Hall scored 24 points, and three other Mountain Hawks joined him in double figures as Lehigh won its seventh consecutive Patriot League game at Stabler Arena, with a 77-69 victory over archrival Lafayette on Saturday evening. Seniors Jose Olivero (16) and Kyle Neptune (12) and junior Bryan White (13) joined Hall in double figures as Lehigh defeated the Leopards for the third straight time; its longest win streak in the series since the 2000-01 season. Lehigh improves to 9-12 overall with the win and 4-1 in league play, while Lafayette, who was led by sophomore Andrew Brown’s 30 points, falls to 7-13 overall and 1-4 in league action.
Hall handed out a game-high six assists and pulled down five boards on the night, as Lehigh outrebouned its opponent 33-24 for the game. White was the team’s leading boarder with nine, while Neptune and freshman Zahir Carrington each pulled down five. Lehigh shot 49 percent from the field and 46 percent from three-point range, while the Leopards hit on 44 percent of their shots, including a stifling 63 percent in the second half.
“He’s a special young man,” head coach Billy Taylor commented about Hall afterwards. “He is able to step into a lively environment like this evening and let the game come to him. Marquis has improved every single day since he’s been here (at Lehigh) and we see no reason for that trend to not continue.”
As it did last year versus the Leopards at home, Lehigh came out strong right from the opening tip, racing out to a 15-4 lead in the first seven minutes of action. Following a slam dunk by Carrington, the Mountain Hawks found themselves ahead 23-7 with 8:29 remaining in the half. The lead again reached 16 at the 7:32 mark when Olivero drilled a shot from beyond the three-point arc. Lehigh would enjoy its largest lead of the opening 20 minutes following a pair of free throws by Olivero, which pushed the lead to 18 at 28-10 with 6:47 to go. Lehigh went into the halftime break ahead by 16 points, up 37-21.
Oliver led the Brown and White with ten first-half tallies, while Neptune added nine and Hall eight. Lehigh shot a sizzling 52 percent from the field and 43 percent from downtown. With a decided size advantage, Lehigh out rebounded the Leopards 23-11, led by White’s six. Lafayette struggled mightily from the field, converting only 25 percent of its attempts, including a 3-of-15 showing from behind the arc (20 percent). Brown led the visitors with ten points, while no other Leopard hit for more than three points.
In the second half Lehigh continue to have control of the game, enjoying a double digit lead throughout, until Brown started to take over. The point guard led the Leopards to within three points on a three-pointer with 1:39 to go following a steal by Matt Betley. Hall then sank eight free throws in the final 1:19 to seal it for the Mountain Hawks, but not before the Leopards made them sweat it out.
Lehigh returns to action on Tuesday evening when the Mountain Hawks travel to Lewisburg to take on the Bucknell Bison in a matchup of the last three Patriot League Champions. Game time is set for 7:00 from Sojka Pavilion with all of the action televised live on WFMZ Channel 69 with Steve Degler and Nathan Jameson on the call. The contest will also be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM as well as around the world on lehighsports.com with Matt Kerr and Greg Falkenbach.