Posted: January 14, 2004
Bethlehem, PA – Clutch free throw shooting by Lehigh’s players in the final minute helped preserve the Mountain Hawks’ 75-70 win over Bucknell Wednesday night at Stabler Arena. Four players combined to make 7-10 free throws in the last sixty seconds to help Lehigh beat the Bison for the fourth straight time. Lehigh led by as much as 16 in the second half, but a furious rally by the Bison made it interesting in the end. With the win, the Mountain Hawks maintain their perfect start to the Patriot League season.
As has been the case all season for Lehigh, the team was led by their dynamic guard combo of senior Austen Rowland and freshman Jose Olivero. The two have combined to lead the team in scoring in 11 of 15 games so far this season, and Wednesday night was no different. The two combined to score 38 points on the night – 20 for Olivero and 18 for Rowland.
Both team shot the ball well in the first half, with each team making more than half of their shots from the field. The teams traded baskets and the lead for most of the half, until Lehigh went on a 9-3 run to end the half with a 41-33 lead.
In the second half, Lehigh turned on the jets, starting the half on another 9-3 run to push the lead out to 50-34. But Bucknell would not go quietly, as the Bison would get all the way back to within three at 68-65 with just one minute left. But missed opportunities and clutch free throws helped Lehigh to their second straight 2-0 start in the Patriot League. Last year the Mountain Hawks started out 5-0.
Head coach Billy Taylor said the team did what it needed to do to win. “We made the big plays when we needed,” said Taylor. “We hit big foul shots and made defensive stops when it mattered. Our guard play was outstanding as well. Austen was great, only giving up one turnover (to go with nine assists), and Jose is really starting to come on as a defender and a shooter.”
Lehigh’s defense held Kevin Bettencourt, Bucknell’s returning Patriot League Freshman of the Year, to just 10 points. Charles Lee and Donald Brown picked up the slack, with 23 and 22 points, respectively. Brown’s points came on a perfect 10-10 shooting from the field (he missed his only free throw attempt).
The Mountain Hawks will next face American on Saturday, as they travel to Washington D.C. to take on the Eagles. Game time is set for , with audio coverage on 1470 WKAP and on Lehigh’s website at www.lehighsports.com.