Posted: January 4, 2006
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh closed out its non-conference schedule with an 80-70 victory over Lehigh Valley rival Muhlenberg on Wednesday evening at Stabler Arena. With the victory, the Mountain Hawks improve to 12-1 at home in the month of January under head coach Billy Taylor, and 7-8 overall on the season. Junior Jose Olivero scored 25 points to lead the Brown and White and now sits just 15 points shy of 1,000 for his career, while senior Mike Fischman chipped in with 13 points, and junior Jason Mgebroff added 10. Jeff Stewart scored a game-high 28 points for the Mules, who fall back to .500 at 5-5.
Lehigh scored its most points since downing American 86-65 at home on February 13, 2004, and connected on seven three-point field goals, five of which came from Olivero. The Mountain Hawks were once again very unselfish, dishing out 20 assists, led by Olivero’s eight, as they shot 44 percent on field goals and 41 percent from beyond the arc.
The Mountain Hawks came out and jumped ahead13-3 at the 15:51 mark on a jumper in the paint by Mgebroff. The lead would hover around ten for the majority of the opening half, with the largest bulge coming with 2:07 left after a free throw by senior James Anderson that made the score 35-19 in favor of the home team. Lehigh shot 40 percent in the opening 20 minutes and led 37-24 heading into the break. Olivero connected on three shots from downtown en route to 13 first half tallies, while Fischman added six. Muhlenberg was held to a 29 percent from the field, but hung tough with the Mountain Hawks, grabbing 19 boards to Lehigh’s 22. Stewart scored nine points in the half.
In the second half, Taylor emptied the Mountain Hawk bench, letting every player on the roster get in. Junior Adam Hyncik scored his first varsity points, connecting on a jumper with 55 seconds remaining from the right corner to put the Brown and White ahead 76-62. The Mules made it interesting down the stretch, pulling to within nine on a three by Stewart with 30 ticks to go, but that was as close as they would get.
Lehigh’s lead ballooned to 24 points at the 9:18 mark when Fischman connected on a free throw, and the Mountain Hawks kept it around 20 before Taylor cleared the bench. “It was good to get everyone in tonight. I am happy that we got some guys a little rest with league play beginning this weekend,” Taylor explained following the contest. “It’s good to head into (league) play with two wins in a row. Obviously there are a few things we need to work on, but I like where we’re at. Now we have to prepare for American and do what we’ve done all season: take it one game at a time.”
Lehigh returns to action on Saturday afternoon when the Mountain Hawks travel to Washington, D.C. to begin Patriot League play versus American. Game time is set for 2:00 from Bender Arena and all of the action can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM as well as lehighsports.com with streaming audio provided by Yahoo! Sports beginning at 1:30. Veteran Matt Kerr will provide the commentary.