Rowland works overtime in Mountain Hawks victory
Posted: January 17, 2004
Washington, DC – Road wins in the Patriot League don’t come cheap, so it was no surprise the Mountain Hawks had to work overtime on Saturday afternoon to gain a 63-58 victory over the American Eagles. Austen Rowland scored 20 points in front of a very hostile crowd, including five in the extra period to keep Lehigh (10-6, 3-0) perfect in conference play.
Lehigh came out firing all cylinders early, as the Mountain Hawks built a quick 12-4 advantage less than five minutes into the contest. The Mountain Hawks connected on five of their first six shots from the floor – including five quick points apiece from Rowland and Jose Olivero – to take the early lead.
However, the Eagles responded, and American held a slim 30-29 advantage at halftime. Although Lehigh shot 50% from the floor in the first stanza (10-of-20), the Eagles shot 42% and did a great job of hanging on to the basketball, committing only two first half turnovers.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well in the second half, as both defenses stepped up. Lehigh converted on just 7-of-24 shots (29%) in the second frame, and American was just 8-of-23 (35%). The Eagles had a chance to win the game but an AU jumper fell off as time expired, sending the contest to an extra session.
In overtime, Lehigh hit some clutch shots to pick up the victory. Rowland began the extra session with a big three point basket. Clinging to a two-point advantage with 1:08 remaining, Jose Olivero then sank a shot from the left elbow with just one second on the shot clock to seal the Mountain Hawks victory.
Rowland was the man for Lehigh, despite constant harassment from the crowd. “It pumped me up,” said Rowland. “I like when the crowd is on me, it gets me going.”
Rowland gave credit to the team’s defense for the win. “Our defense shut them down, especially Dayne (Mickelson), who really locked down on (Jernavis) Draughn. Once he stopped Draughn from getting baskets inside, we really started to do well.”
“It was a total team performance,” said head coach Billy Taylor. “When you are on the road, in front of a tough crowd, you have to make the big plays to win, and that’s what we did today. Austen had a big game in his homecoming. He was the difference maker out there.”
Draughn led American (8-9, 2-1) with 17 points and nine rebounds. For the Mountain Hawks, Jose Olivero had 11 first-half points plus the overtime basket for a total of 13 on the game.
The first place Mountain Hawks return to action on Friday night, when Lehigh visits archrival Lafayette. Tip-off is set for 8:00 from the Kirby Sports Center in Easton, with live coverage on Patriot League TV, WFMZ-TV in the Lehigh Valley, Oldies 1470 AM, and lehighsports.com.