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Lady Hawks Off To Flying League Start Over American

With the men's basketball team on the road in Washington, DC and the wrestling team in Hampton Roads, VA, it was the 11-4 Lady Hawks that had Stabler all to themselves (and the MASN television crews) on Saturday - and treated the home crowd to their eighth win in eight tries at "The kree-eee-ar"to a dominating 77-69 win over 10-5 American. (For those keeping score at home, yes, I am re-christening Stabler instead with the battle cry of the Mountain Hawk, kree-eee-ar. Hey, if New Mexico has the Pit and Lafayette has the Zoo Crew, we need something even better, right?)

What has to be most encouraging was not only the final score - a game where the Eagles were down as many as 21 points - but also the way they won, with solid play on the boards. Sophomore F Courtney Dentler (12 points, 7 rebounds) and junior F Courtney Molinaro (12 points, 5 rebounds) both converted in the paint, while sophomore G Erica Prosser (18 points, 8 assists) simply had a banner game, adding the outside to the solid inside game. For good measure, junior G Alex Ross added 11 points off the bench as she comes back from injury.

The Lady Hawks are not only playing great, and at 11-4 (Real Time RPI: 100) they are having their best season that I can ever remember. They'll be trying to keep the party going at 7-9 Navy (Real Time RPI: 293) on Wednesday, available on 91-3 WLVR in the Lehigh Valley and worldwide on LehighSports.com. They then head up to West Point, NY to take on a challenging league opponent: 10-5 Army (Real Time RPI: 162).

*****

Even though the Lehigh grapplers were unranked going into the season, the No. 8 Mountain Hawks' perfect 14-0 duals record was on the line this Saturday in Hampton Roads, VA. The magical wrestling season continued their thrilling ways - but, for the first time this season, came up just short in the final dual of the tournament.

Facing off against No. 15 Edinboro (PA) was no easy task in the 2:30 match, and when top ranked Gregor Gillespie of the Fightin' Scots scored a 17-2 technical fall at 157, it didn't look good for Lehigh. But the Hawk wrestlers would take four of the last five bouts - including junior 165 lb Mike Galante's 18-7 major decision to bring Lehigh back in the dual and freshman heavyweight Zach Rey's 2-1 decision over nationally-ranked Joey Fendone to allow Lehigh to advance to the finals - and capture Lehigh's 800th dual win in program history.

But the duals streak would end at the hands of a solid Central Michigan squad, ranked No. 12 in the nation. The finals did have their moments for the Mountain Hawks, including a surprise win by junior 133 lb Matt Fisk over nationally-ranked Connor Beebe and a 6-2 decision by junior 184 lb David Craig over Vince DiDona, but the Chippewas' strength across the board ended up being too much, as Central Michigan took six of the nine bouts.

The wrestlers end their long, long road trip with a stop at Navy this weekend in a key EIWA match that can he heard on WLVR and worldwide on LehighSports.com. Then next week it's back to the Valley for a seven dual homestand at Leeman-Turner Arena. Should be good times for wrestling fans the next three weeks before EIWA and nationals.

*****

Last week, the men's basketball team looked like world beaters.

At 10-3 with 4-8 Princeton on the schedule, Lehigh looked well poised to enter league play this Saturday. But after an uninspiring 73-64 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday, all of a sudden doubts started to form going into Saturday. And while the Mountain Hawks put in a gutty performance against American- with a big 3 pointer at the buzzer by junior G Marquis Hall forcing overtime - Lehigh proceeded to run ot of steam in the extra session for a 76-66 setback.

After two losses in a row, Lehigh fans are wondering if this team has what it takes to play with the big boys of the Patriot League.

One big bright spot, though, has been the play of junior F Zahir Carrington, who had a pair of double-doubles against Princeton and American this past week and scored 39 points and 22 rebounds in both games. He's growing to be a real player underneath - and emerging as one of the best post players I've seen at Lehigh in a long time.

10-5 Lehigh (Real Time RPI: 220) has two home games to set things right: the first coming on Wednesday against 12-4 Navy (Real Time RPI: 120) and the next on Saturday against 4-11 Army (Real Time RPI: 329) who has been a real pain in the side for Lehigh the last two years at Stabler, eliminating the Mountain Hawks in the Patriot League tournament two years running.

I can say that two wins will do a lot for building confidence that this Mountain Hawk team is for real.

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