Posted: February 13, 2004
Bethlehem, PA – Needing a win to keep their chances of a regular season Patriot League title intact, the Mountain Hawks broke open a close game at the start of the second half to take an 86-65 win over American. Lehigh’s guard trio of Austen Rowland, Jose Olivero and Ra Tiah carried the load for most of the night, combining for 65 of the team’s 86 on the night. The victory assured Lehigh of back-to-back winning seasons, the first time that has happened since the 1989-90 and 90-91 seasons.
In a high-scoring first half, both teams shot over 50 percent from the field as Lehigh took a 43-39 lead into the break. Both teams shot the three well also, as the Mountain Hawks were an impressive 7-9 from behind the arc and the Eagles were 7-14. Though American had the lead for much of the half, Lehigh used a late run to take the lead at the half.
In the second half, Lehigh continued to drill away from outside, opening the half on a 15-3 run to break it open. Austen Rowland was unstoppable during the run, hitting a variety of pull-up jumpers to help Lehigh build an insurmountable lead. Rowland finished the night with 29 points and 9 assists, including 5-7 from downtown. Though Lehigh stayed hot, American could not find the basket as in the first half, shooting only 34.8% in the second half in getting swept on the season by the Mountain Hawks.
For the game, Lehigh shot 13-19 from three-point range. Jose Olivero was 4-6, and finished the game with 18 points. Tiah finished with 9 points and only missed one shot from the field. Jason Thomas was the high scorer for American with 16 points, while Andres Rodriguez and Andre Ingram had 13 points apiece.
With the win the Mountain Hawks maintained their grip on sole possession of second place in the Patriot League at 8-2 in league play, and improved to 15-8 overall on the year. American drops to 12-12 on the season, 6-4 in the conference.
The Mountain Hawks return to the court with a home date against Army next Friday night with the action set to tip off after the women’s game around . The game will be broadcast live on Oldies 1470 AM WKAP, and will also be available on Lehigh’s website at www.lehighsports.com.