Lehigh starts slow and never recovers in Worcester
Posted: February 29, 2004
Worcester, MA – Lehigh never really got into an offensive rhythm, and Holy Cross quickly took advantage and pulled away as the Crusaders rolled to a 72-57 victory over the Mountain Hawks inside the Hart Recreation Center on Sunday afternoon. Despite the setback, the Mountain Hawks head into the Patriot League tournament as the No. 1 seed with a record of 17-10 overall and 10-4 in Patriot League play. The Crusaders improve to 13-14 overall and 7-7 in the league with the victory.
Lehigh came out of the gate cold, connecting on only 38 percent of its shots, and also turned the ball over an uncharacteristic nine times in the first twenty minutes. Holy Cross was on fire from behind the three-point arc on its way to a 6 of 13 showing from the land of plenty en route to a 29-21 halftime lead.
Freshman Jose Olivero did manage to find his shooting touch for Lehigh, as he scored seven points in the half and also handed out two assists. Junior Earl Nurse pulled down five rebounds in the opening twenty minutes and also recorded a steal. The Crusaders were led on offense by Keith Simons who splashed home three three-pointers on his way to nine points. Senior Jave Meade connected for eight first half points and also handed out six assists.
The second half proved to be more of the same, as the Crusaders pushed the lead out over 20 points for the bulk of the second half, and ran away with the win. Lehigh was never able to get any closer than 11 points, and that was in the opening five minutes of the half. Holy Cross simply shot the ball too well and played suffocating defense all afternoon long.
Four Lehigh players scored in double figures on the afternoon, led by a career high 17 from Kyle Neptune. Neptune spiced his day with two shots from beyond the arc and a steal and nifty reverse slam in the closing minutes. Classmate Jose Olivero scored 12 points, while Austen Rowland and Jason Mgebroff added 11 points apiece.
Holy Cross’ Kevin Hamilton paced the Crusaders with 17 points, as he connected on 3-of-5 from long range. For the afternoon, the Crusaders shot 46%, while Lehigh was held to just 37% field goal shooting.
Lehigh returns to action on March 6 when the Mountain Hawks travel to Marlboro, MD to compete in the Patriot League Tournament. The No. 1 seeded Mountain Hawks will play No. 8 seed Navy in the first round.
Patriot League tournament first round match-ups – Saturday, March 6
#1 Lehigh vs. #8 Navy – Noon
#4 Lafayette vs. #5 Holy Cross – 2:30
#2 American vs. #6 Colgate – 5:00
#3 Bucknell vs. #7 Army – 7:30