Posted: January 7, 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lehigh junior Jose Olivero scored a game-high 22 points, including three three-pointers, as the Mountain Hawks opened Patriot League play with a 70-59 victory over host American at Bender Arena on Saturday afternoon. In the process, Olivero became the 26th player in Lehigh basketball history to score 1,000 points, as the Virginia native posted his fourth straight game of at least 20 points and helped the Mountain Hawks move to 4-0 in Patriot League road openers under head coach Billy Taylor.
The win was the third straight for Lehigh (8-8 overall, 1-0 Patriot), and the third in a row for the Mountain Hawks at Bender Arena. Meanwhile, the Eagles fall to 4-9 on the season and 0-1 in league play.
“We really executed down the stretch today,” explained a Taylor following the game. “Our guys stuck with our game plan and everyone had a hand in this win. Jose continued to play well, he’s not only scoring for us, but he’s distributing and leading as well.” Taylor added, “It’s nice to get a win on the road at anytime, especially when it’s within the league.”
Olivero finished the first half with 12 points, including a short jumper just before the buzzer to give Lehigh a 31-28 lead at the break. The Mountain Hawks jumped out to a ten-point lead in the early going, but saw American put together a run of its own and eventually take the lead before Lehigh came back to go on top. Lehigh went over ten minutes without a field goal during one stretch, but a nine of 15 showing at the charity stripe gave the visitors some breathing room on the scoreboard.
For the half, Lehigh shot 42 percent from the field, while the Eagles connected on 33 percent of their shots. Junior Kyle Neptune added six points for the Brown and White, while seniors James Anderson and Mike Fischman, along with sophomore Bryan White pulled down a team-best three boards.
For American, Arvydas Eitutavicius scored seven points, but was hampered by foul trouble, which forced him to the bench, limiting him to just eight minutes. Paulius Joneliunas recorded four rebounds in the opening twenty minutes and added two blocked shots.
Lehigh came out strong, and quickly built a ten point lead, thanks in part to a three from Olivero, giving the Virginia native exactly 1,000 points for his career. American slowly whittled the lead, and even took a brief lead of its own, before LU rallied to put the game away.
Olivero led all scorers with 22 on 8-of-15 shooting, before fouling out of the game. Sophomore Bryan White added 14 points and seven rebounds, and senior point guard Mitch Gilfillan scored nine points and dished out a career high ten assists in the win.
As a team, the Mountain Hawks shot 47% from the floor, while limiting the Eagles to 36%. The Lehigh defense also forced 19 turnovers by American. The Brown and White also took advantage of opportunities from the free throw line, as the Mountain Hawks connected on 19-of-27 from the stripe (70%) on the afternoon.
Arvydas Eitutavicius led American with 15 points, including three three’s, before fouling out of the game.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks open up the home portion of their Patriot League schedule, welcoming Navy to Stabler Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:05 and tickets can be purchased at the arena prior the game.