Posted: March 6, 2005
Worcester, MA – Lehigh fell to Holy Cross 57-53 in overtime on Sunday afternoon at the Hart Center in front of 1782 in attendance in the Patriot League semifinals. The two teams were even for the majority of the game, and played an extra five minutes to determine the winner and who would move onto the league championship.
With the loss, Lehigh’s season ends at 14-15, while the Crusaders improve to 24-5.
Lehigh received a great effort from every player on its roster on the day, especially Mike Fischman, who received a spot start due to an injury to Jason Mgebroff and Fischman did not disappoint. The 6-9 junior grabbed a career-high tying ten rebounds and scored five points on the day. Joe Knight scored 11 points for the Brown and White, while Jose Olivero netted ten points, all in the first half.
Lehigh shot just 26 percent from the field for the game, but did hit on 20 of 24 free throws, while the Crusaders shot 28 percent on field goals, but hit 20 of 26 from the charity stripe. Kevin Hamilton scored 16 points and grabbed five boards, while John Hurley and Keith Simmons added 11 points each.
The Mountain Hawks stretched their lead to as many as seven points with 7:10 remaining on a pretty back door alley-oop in-bounds play from Kyle Neptune to Earl Nurse, and Lehigh had Holy Cross thinking it was the Brown and White’s day. The Crusaders slowly whittled down the lead on free throws and two crowd raising slam dunks by Simmons, but the Mountain Hawks still had a chance to win in regulation. A shot clock violation by Lehigh gave Holy Cross a final attempt to win in regulation, but Torey Thomas could not get off a shot and so the teams headed for overtime.
In the extra session, there were no field goals scored, only 12 free throws by the two teams, and after Hamilton sunk two with nine seconds remaining, the Mountain Hawks could only throw up a desperation three at the buzzer.
The first half was a rough, physical 20 minutes of basketball, with eight lead changes and six ties. On the strength of 19 rebounds, ten on the offensive end, Lehigh went to the locker room in front 29-27. Both the Mountain Hawks and Crusaders shot just 31 percent from the floor, hitting on eight of 26 field goals. The Brown and White was led by Olivero’s ten tallies on a perfect seven of seven at the charity stripe, while Fischman provided a huge boost, as the Florida native pulled down six rebounds and scored five points, including a nice tip-dunk.
Lehigh turned the ball over seven times and hit just 30 percent from three-point range, while the Crusaders shot 3 of 11 from down town and turned the ball over six times. John Hurley and Torey Thomas each scored seven points for the home team, while Hurley added four boards in the opening 20 minutes.
“I’m extremely proud of the effort of everyone in our program, from the players to the assistant coaches,” explained head coach Billy Taylor after the game. “We really came with a great deal of intensity and energy and effort this afternoon. I could not be prouder of our team.”
Holy Cross moves onto the Patriot League Championship game on Friday, March 11 vs. Bucknell at 4:30 at the Hart Center. It will be the Crusaders fourth appearance in the championship game in the last five years.