Lehigh tops Bucknell, hosts championship game next week
Posted: March 7, 2004
Upper Marlboro, MD – Top-seeded Lehigh advanced to the Patriot League championship game with a 60-45 victory over No. 4 Bucknell in the semifinal matchup at The Show Place Arena on Sunday evening. The Mountain Hawks (19-10) will appear in the title game for the first time in school history, while the Bison wrap up their season with a 14-15 mark.
The Bison came out fired up, and used two three-point field goals from Kevin Bettencourt to take a 6-0 lead with 15:31 to go in the opening half. The Bucknell lead was short-lived, however, as the Mountain Hawks raced out on a 23-2 spurt over the next 9:45 to take a comfortable 23-8 lead. The game see-sawed back and forth over the final 5:56 of the opening frame, and the Mountain Hawks jogged back to their locker room with a 36-20 lead.
In the second half, Lehigh kept up the defensive pressure and never allowed the Bison to creep any closer than nine points. Despite Bettencourt’s six quick points, Lehigh held him to just four more for the remainder of the contest. The stifling Mountain Hawks pressure caused problems for Bucknell all night, holding the Bison to just 32% field goal shooting for the game.
Senior guard Austen Rowland pointed out that defensive toughness was the key to Lehigh’s success. “We just talked about playing great ‘D,’ and trying to lock them up,” he said. “We knew our shots would eventually fall.”
“This was a great effort from our guys,” said Lehigh head coach Billy Taylor. “This was a terrific overall performance for us, and although Bucknell fought hard, we were able to come away with a victory.”
Freshman Jose Olivero and sophomore reserve Kevin Tempest led Lehigh in the scoring column with 12 points apiece. Rowland finished with nine points and an impressive eight assists. Freshman Jason Mgebroff added 10 points and six rebounds in the win.
Lehigh returns to Stabler Arena to host the Patriot League championship game next week against the winner of the Colgate-American game. The championship game – and along with it the right to go to the 2004 NCAA Tournament – will be played at Noon on Sunday, March 14 at Stabler. Tickets for the game will go on sale Monday morning and can be purchased beginning at 10am at the Lehigh Athletics Ticket Office in Grace Hall, or by calling (610) 7LU-GAME.