Mountain Hawks fall short in overtime thriller at Lafayette
Posted: January 23, 2004
Easton, PA – In a game that lived up to every bit of its pre-game hype, Lehigh and Lafayette tussled to the end Friday night in a battle for Patriot League supremacy, and forty minutes wasn’t enough to decide a winner. When the dust settled, Lafayette (13-4, 4-0) was able to hold off a fantastic Lehigh (10-7, 3-1) comeback, winning in overtime 111-104.
Though Lehigh led for most of the first three-quarters of the game, Lafayette took what appeared to be a nearly insurmountable lead of ten points with just 3:33 left to play. But a 19-9 run by the Mountain Hawks sent the game to OT, where their efforts fell just short.
The first half saw both teams playing exceptionally well, with neither team building a lead bigger than five points. Both teams held the lead four times, and the game was also tied four times. The Mountain Hawks spread the ball around very effectively, getting baskets from eight different players. Austen Rowland led the charge with 14 in the stanza. Lehigh shot 57% in the half and did a great job getting the ball inside, scoring 20 points in the paint.
In the second half, Rowland continued to spark the Mountain Hawk offense as the team built a 61-53 lead midway through. But Lafayette would rally, hitting seven straight free throws to close within 61-60, then took the lead 62-61 on a bucket by Rob Dill.
Lafayette would go on to build a 10-point lead with just over four minutes remaining, but Lehigh would not give up. Rowland and Olivero scored again and again to bring the team back, each hitting crucial 3’s to lead the comeback. Olivero would hit a three with 25 seconds left to pull within one. Then after Marcus Harley hit 1-2 from the free throw stripe, Olivero would race downcourt and get fouled, nearly making the shot for a chance at a three-point play. Olivero would calmly sink two free throws with 11 seconds left to tie it up at 90, and Lafayette would get two shots as the clock wound down to win it but could not score, and the game went to an extra frame.
In the overtime, Justin DeBerry took over for Lafayette, hitting a fallaway three pointer and making two steals to put the Leopards ahead to stay. Lafayette outscored Lehigh 21-14 in the overtime.
“It was a well played game by both teams,” said Lehigh head coach Billy Taylor. “We have things we need to correct for sure, but I am proud of our effort.”
For the game, Rowland had a career-high 35 on the night he went over the 1,000-point mark for his collegiate career. Lehigh’s freshman class played outstanding as well, as each member scored in double figures. Olivero finished the night with 17 points, and both Jason Mgebroff and Kyle Neptune had career bests with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
DeBerry led Lafayette with 26 points, including a perfect 12-12 from the charity stripe. Sean Knitter had 19 points in a supporting role for the Leopards, who move into sole possession of first place in the Patriot League with the victory.
Lehigh will be back in action on Sunday when they travel to West Point to take on Army. The game is set for a 3:15 tip-off, and will be broadcast live in the Lehigh Valley on WKAP 1470 as well as on Lehigh’s website at www.lehighsports.com.