Posted: February 21, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Down 12 points with 19:00 remaining, Lehigh put together an 18-8 run to claw within two points, but it wasn’t enough as the Mountain Hawks fell to first place Bucknell 69-56 on Wednesday evening at Stabler Arena. Seniors Jose Olivero and Kyle Neptune led the way on offense with 14 points apiece, while sophomore Phil Anderson added nine points on a perfect three-of-three shooting from beyond the arc as Lehigh falls to 12-17 overall and 7-6 in league play. The Bison improve to 19-8 overall and 12-1 in Patriot League action with their 11th straight victory.
Lehigh shot only 33 percent, including a 23 percent clip in the opening half. The Mountain Hawks were out rebounded 31-25, but turned the ball over only eight times. Freshman Marquis Hall struggled with his shooting all evening long, as he hit just one field goal en route to four points Hall did manage to hand out a game-high six assists, while Neptune ripped down six boards on the evening.
Bucknell placed a trio of players in double digits, led by junior John Griffin with 16 points, while seniors Chris McNaughton and Abe Badmus contributed 14 and 13, respectively. McNaughton also pulled down seven boards and handed out four assists.
A three-pointer by Badmus and a free throw from junior Darren Mastropaolo quickly put the Bison in front 4-0 just 47 seconds into the contest. Lehigh would go in front by one on a three from Neptune at the 16:55 mark, but Mastropaolo’s jumper 1:13 later put the visitors back in front by a point. Lehigh would go up by four on two occasions, the second of which came when Anderson drilled a three at the 11:41 mark to make the score 15-11.
Bucknell though had an answer, as the visitors went on a 5-0 run to go back in front by one. A 9-0 run by the Bison keyed by six foul shots and a three put them ahead 25-17 with 4:19 left in the half. Sophomore Matt Szalachowski answered with a three of his own for Lehigh, but Badmus, McNaughton and Griffin sank shots from the charity stripe and downtown to push the Bison in front 32-23 at the intermission.
In the second half, Lehigh finally found its touch, as Olivero hit a jumper, Neptune and Anderson hit back-to-back three’s and Olivero drove hard to the basket, got fouled and completed the old fashioned three-point play to bring Lehigh to within one bucket at the 9:58 mark. A three by sophomore Jason Vegotsky pushed Bucknell’s lead to five and Badmus scored on a lay up to make the score 52-45 with 6:09 left. The Bison would not relinquish their lead from there as they were solid from the free throw line down the stretch and played tight enough defense to hold off any chance for a Lehigh rally.
Lehigh now has one game remaining in its regular season, which will take place on Sunday, when the Mountain Hawks welcome Holy Cross to town. Tip-off from Stabler Arena is set for 1:05 and tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by logging onto lehighsports.com or prior to the game at the arena box office.