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Patriot League Notebook

December 17, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Patriot League Notebook

by Steve Sheridan

Bucknell and Navy Decide To Start Winning Games

It took playing against a Division III opponent, but the Navy Midshipmen finally got into the win column on Saturday night against Gettysburg, eking out a 61-60 victory in front of a surely exuberant home crowd. Sophomore guard David Hooper led Navy to its first win of the season, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the final two minutes of the game when the team needed it most, while also coming down with 11 boards. But if the early season has taught us anything, it is that nothing is going to come easy in Annapolis this season, even against lesser teams. Despite holding a 16-point advantage early in the second half, the team had to endure a big second-half rally by the Bullets, holding just enough of an advantage to counter a last-second three-pointer by Gettysburg. The win kept the Middies from becoming the first team in school history to begin a season 0-6.

Bucknell also managed to feast on a much lesser opponent, destroying the Dickinson Red Devils by a score of 79-36. All 15 members of the Bucknell squad managed to tally a field goal and a rebound in the contest, which was never in doubt after the Bison ran off 16 unanswered points to begin the contest. Coming off of a 42-point outburst against Saint Francis, Kevin Bettencourt led the team against Dickinson with 13 points, as the offense was truly spread around the entire roster. Bucknell also garnered 17 more rebounds than Dickinson had points, grabbing 53 boards to the Red Devils’ 27. The 36 points was the fewest let up by a Bucknell squad since 1951, when the team lost (not sure how) 21-15 to Penn State. The 43-point differential was the largest for the Bison since the 1998-99 season, when they defeated another basketball powerhouse, Carnegie-Mellon, 98-42.

Olivero Continues to Deliver For Lehigh

Jose Olivero, who picked up his second straight Patriot League Rookie of the Week award this week (see below), continues to lead the Mountain Hawk offense, scoring 23 points to lead the team over Columbia, 60-57 on Monday night. The biggest three points of the game provided the final score, as his three-pointer with four seconds remaining gave Lehigh the hard-fought victory. An even bigger story in this game, however, was the second-half futility of the Mountain Hawk team. Lehigh went nine minutes without scoring a single point during one stretch, being outscored 24-0 in that span. Somehow, the team managed to stay in the game, with Olivero providing the late-game heroics for the Mountain Hawks.

Holy Cross’ Average Height Drops A Foot

The Crusaders (and team Super Fan Tom Severo) will have to deal with the recent departure of 7’6″ center Neil Fingleton, who has returned to his home to England to take care of some family matters. The tallest player in Holy Cross and Patriot League history averaged 12 minutes per game in three games this season, registering eight points and eight rebounds in limited action. The departure leaved 6’11” Nate Lufkin as the sole center listed on the Crusaders’ roster.

Patriot League Player of the Week:

Howard Blue, Colgate.

The senior forward was named the Player of the Week for the first time in his four-year career for his games against Buffalo and Harvard. He scored a game-high 20 points in a losing effort against the Bulls, while contributing 17 points and six rebounds against Harvard. Blue also notched his 1,000th point of his career against the Crimson, joining newly-minted member Justin DeBerry and Raider teammate Mark Linebaugh.

Patriot League Freshman of the Week:

Jose Olivero, Lehigh.

As mentioned above, Olivero was named the Frosh of the Week for the second week in a row following his 23-point game against Columbia. The freshman has led the Mountain Hawks in scoring in each of the team’s last four games.

On to the team recaps . . .

Lafayette Leopards (5-1 overall)

The Leopards continue their winning ways, running its winning streak to five straight after dispatching of Centenary and Binghamton. Against Centenary, the team used a 22-2 run over the final 9:38 of the first half to take control of the contest, winning handily by a score of 96-54. Fourteen different Leopards were entered into the scoring column on the Friday evening, with Winston Davis leading the way for Lafayette with 12 points, while Justin DeBerry and Jamaal Hilliard each adding 11 points to the well-balanced attack. Against Binghamton, DeBerry poured in a team-high 19 points and took in seven rebounds. Nine different Lafayette players scored in this one, marking the fourth consecutive contest in which at least nine players got on the score sheet. With the win, the Leopards are off to the best start since the 1998-99 season, when the team opened the year 6-1. Lafayette is next scheduled to play Lycoming on Wednesday night and then hosts Cornell on Saturday.

Colgate Raiders (4-3 overall)

With much of the campus’ attention focused primarily on the Raider football team, which plays for the 1-AA national championship Friday against Delaware, the men’s basketball team has been flying under the radar as of late. The Raiders followed up a terrible 72-49 home loss to Buffalo by rebounding for a 78-60 victory over host Harvard. Against Buffalo, the team’s obvious lack of height was exposed, as Buffalo’s five players standing over 6’9″ had their way inside against the small Colgate lineup, holding a 39-22 rebounding edge. Against Cornell, Howard Blue led the team with 17 points on his way to the Player of the Week honors, while Mark Linebaugh, Andrew Zidar and Jon Simon all reached double digits for Colgate. After taking the week off for finals, Colgate returns to action on Saturday when Hobart comes to Cotterell Court for a matinee matchup.

Lehigh Mountain Hawks (4-3 overall)

Lehigh has won two in a row to get back over .500, with an 88-79 victory over Harvard coming before the aforementioned triumph over Columbia. Excellent guard play carried the team against the Crimson, as Jose Olivero scored a career-high 24 points, while fellow guards Ra Tiah and Austen Rowland added 16 and 14 points, respectively for the Mountain Hawks. The game saw 89 free throws between the two teams, as Lehigh scored 34 points from the line out of 50 attempts. As mentioned above, Olivero once again led the team to victory over Columbia with a game-high 23 points, while Rowland was the only other Lehigh player in double figures with 10 points. The team returns to action this Wednesday with a 7 p.m. tip-off against Delaware Valley.

American Eagles (3-4 overall)

The Eagles have run off two straight victories by taking down UNC-Greenboro and Howard. Andres Rodriguez was the top scorer for the Eagles in its 65-45 win over UNCG, scoring 16 points to go along with 10 assists and four steals. American went on a 16-4 run to start the second half to put the game away, with Rodriguez scoring seven of his points during that stretch. The Eagles led by as many as 28 points late in the game, but gave up the final eight points to account for the 20-point margin. A much closer game ensued against Howard, as two Andre Ingram free throws with five seconds left sealed the game for the Eagles. The freshman led all scorers on the evening with 16 points, while Matej Cresnik and Jason Thomas also reached double digits for the Eagles. The team is now off until Thursday, when they travel to Pennsylvania to play St. Francis.

Holy Cross Crusaders (3-4 overall)

The Crusaders fell last Saturday night to number 25 Louisville, dropping a 56-40 decision. The team gave a good fight to Rick Pitino’s Cardinals, but ultimately were subdued by Louisville’s big-game experience and athleticism. Nate Lufkin led the Crusaders on the night, tallying nine points while adding six rebounds. The Crusaders actually held a 23-22 lead with two minutes gone in the second half, but Louisville went on a crushing 22-5 run to take control of the contest. The team responded on Wednesday night by snapping its four-game losing streak in a 66-57 win over Fordham. Freshman Keith Simmons led Holy Cross with 12 points, while Jave Meade, John Hurley and Nate Lufkin also scored 10 or more for the Crusaders. The team is now in the midst of an 11-day layoff, playing next on Sunday against Brown.

Army Black Knights (3-5 overall)

The Army basketball team has fallen on hard times, losing three straight contests to fall under .500 on the season. Against Albany, Sean O’Keefe scored 12 points in a 68-62 loss. The team then took on fourth-ranked UConn, fighting valiantly before succumbing, 74-46. Emeka Okafor dominated for the Huskies inside, recording his first career triple-double with 18 points, 15 rebounds and 10 blocks against the over-matched Black Knight squad. Stony Brook gave Army a three-game losing streak with a 69-44 beating on Thursday night. Freshman Adeniyi Amadou paced Army with nine points on the evening, as the Army first-years contributed 36 of the team’s 44 points. The team is currently in the middle of a 19-day winter break, picking the ball up again on December 30 against New Hampshire.

Bucknell Bison (1-5 overall)

As previously mentioned, the Bucknell squad put itself into the win column for the first time this season after a 79-36 dismantling of Dickinson. In the previous game against Saint Francis, Kevin Bettencourt exploded for 42 points but in a losing effort, as the Bison dropped an 84-79 decision. Besides Bettencourt’s career night, Charles Lee and Chris McNaughton added 13 and 12 points, respectively, but the other nine members of the team combined for a mere 12 points, resulting in another Bison loss. The team actually shot 50 percent from the field for the game, yet after Bettencourt’s 20 attempts no other Bison took more than seven shots. Next up for the Bison is the Penn Quakers on Saturday.

Navy Midshipmen (1-5 overall)

The Midshipmen finally won a game as well, squeaking by D-III Gettysburg, 61-60. Before that contest, the team committed 31 turnovers in losing to the University of Central Florida, 80-52. In topping the team’s season-high of 30 turnovers, the Midshipmen gave the Golden Knights nearly half their points, as 39 of 80 came off of Navy turnovers. Separate 13-0 and 10-0 runs in the first half did in the Midshipmen, as the lead was extended to 20 at the start of the second half and Navy would never see the deficit fall beneath this number for the remainder of the contest. The team next hosts Washington College on Thursday and Ohio on Saturday.


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