Posted: February 19, 2006
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh celebrated Senior Day on Sunday afternoon by defeating archrival Lafayette 82-64 at Stabler Arena to improve to 11-1 in Patriot League play for the first time ever. The 11 league wins are the most in school history and the 18-point victory over the Leopards was the largest at Stabler by the Mountain Hawks since an 86-51 victory on January 21, 1995. Lehigh, which is now 18-9 overall was led by senior Joe Knight’s 21 points, while Lafayette falls to 10-15 overall and 4-8 in league action.
The Mountain Hawks used another strong shooting performance to win, downing 57 percent of their shots from the field, including a 55 percent clip from downtown. The Brown and White hit 30 field goals, assisting on 20 of them, while holding the visitors to just 39 percent shooting. Junior Jose Olivero added 16 points for the winners, while classmate Kyle Neptune scored 14 points and added nine boards. Senior Mitch Gilfillan dished out a career-high 11 assists, and added nine tallies on the day, as Lehigh enjoyed a 26-16 advantage on points in the paint.
Lafayette was led in scoring by Andrei Capusan’s 13 points, while Pat Betley added 12 and Paul Cummins scored 11, including a three of six showing from three-point range. Freshman Andrew Brown handed out a team-best six assists, while Jamaal Hilliard and Betley both pulled down five rebounds.
Head Coach Billy Taylor, who improved to 4-0 at home vs. Lafayette, spoke about the win afterwards. “Today was a special day for our seniors, an emotional day. But I think they used that as motivation and really came out strong today. We were hitting on all facets right from the start and really played a complete game today, particularly on the defensive end.”
The Brown and White came out strong, racing to a 22-5 lead on a free throw by Olivero at the 11:57 mark of the opening half. The lead hovered around 20 for most of the first half, getting to as many as 23 with 8:18 to go on a three from Olivero. Lehigh took a 44-28 into the locker room, shooting 61 percent in the opening half and out rebounding the Leopards 19-14.
In the second half Lehigh continued to pour it on, going up by 24 on a Jason Mgebroff jumper at the 12:51 mark, and by 27 on a Neptune bucket with 10:34 to go. Lafayette did manage to cut the lead to 15 on a free throw by Bilal Abdullah with 2:21 to go, but two free throws from freshman Matt Szalchowski and a three from classmate Philip Anderson quickly pushed the lead back up to 20 with 17 ticks left.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks travel to Lewisburg for the highly anticipated matchup with No. 24 Bucknell. Tip-off is set for 7:00 and the game will be televised live on WFMZ, as well as FCS Atlantic with Steve Degler and Nathan Jameson on the call. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM as well as lehighsports.com with veteran Matt Kerr and Greg Falkenbach ’72.
Photos (c) 2006, Lehigh Athletics/Chris Christian.