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"The Rivalry" On The Mats And Hardwood This Weekend


As the Lehigh men's basketball team put their finishing touches on their 74-60 rout of 5-13 Colgate yesterday, somewhere the people in the offices of the Patriot League had to be smiling.

It's not because that the folks working in the Patriot League offices are Lehigh fans in particular, but the Mountain Hawks' win over the Raiders, along with Lafayette's 61-57 escape over 6-14 Bucknell, means that first place in the Patriot League will be on the line when Lehigh and Lafayette face off at Stabler Arena at 7:00 pm this Saturday.

A possible sellout at Stabler this Saturday.  The 12-7 Mountain Hawks vs. the 13-6 Leopards.  One historic rivalry.  189 vs. 190 in the Real Time RPI.  First place.  What's not to love?  (more)



As great as it is to contemplate this weekend's matchup, there were points in the game last night at Stabler where it looked as if Lehigh might suffer a letdown.  Nearing the close of the first half, the Raiders led 27-23 with 4:00 minutes to play, but seemed gassed.  Enter senior F Zahir Carrington, who took the team on his back and powered in the next seven points to give Lehigh a 30-27 halftime lead.

In the second half - which was more of a battle than the final score might suggest - it ended up being "Let's Make A Three" night with senior G Dave Buchberger (10 points, 2 3-pointers) and freshman G C. J. McCollum (29 points, 3 assists, 7 boards, 2 3-pointers) leading the charge.  With senior G Marquis Hall directing traffic and distributing to his fellow guards (9 points, 7 assists) it finally ended in a rout.  Key to Lehigh's ultimate victory were the freebies: as a team, the Mountain Hawks converted 21-of-25 from the charity stripe including a perfect 6-for-6 from freshman F Gabe Knutson.

It's bound to be harder, even at home, against "that school in Easton" in what promises to be a packed Stabler arena.  The Leopards feature a nice inside game with junior F Jared "Double" Mintz (who had a workmanlike 17 point, 11 rebound effort against Bucknell) and sophomore F Ryan Willen (11.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg), while Lafayette head coach Fran O'Hanlon seems to still be tinkering with his guard rotation with only senior G Michael Gruner (14 points 3 steals vs. Bucknell) playing consistently in the backcourt.  Key for the Mountain Hawks will be under those boards and Carrington staying out of foul trouble - and, of course, keeping up their strong defense in the last two games.

Should be a great one this weekend at Stabler.  The game will be televised on Service Electric 2 in the lehigh Valley and broadcast online through Patriot League All-Access on CBS Sports - or you can listen to the game for free via AM 1230/1320 in the Lehigh Valley or on Lehighsports.com.

*****

That's not the only "Rivalry" going on in the valley this weekend.  At Kirby Sports Center this weekend, the 16-3 Lady Hawks (Real Time RPI: 69) will be defending Lehigh's honor in Easton against the 4-14 Lady Leopards (Real Time RPI: 304).  If this opponent were anyone but Lafayette, you'd be tempted to skip it: but considering it will be the first time Lafayette will have played the team that denied them a chance to go to the NCAA tournament last year, you know the Lady Leopards will be fired up in a Rivalry sort of way.

It doesn't help that the Lehigh women really struggled from the field last night in a hard-fought 57-45 slugfest last night at Coglate.  The Lady Hawks started out slow - shooting 27.6% in the first half - but still managed to go into halftime with the lead thanks to a late lay-up by junior F Courtney Dentler.

Head coach Sue Troyan was less than thrilled with the first half performance. “I was most frustrated in the first half because we weren’t going through things at a pace that allowed us to make shots. We were going through things half speed on both ends of the floor and we knew we needed to pick it up. When you’re not shooting well you have to crash the boards and give yourself better opportunities and I thought we did that in the second half.”

Junior G Erica Prosser - who had no points in the first half - responded like a superstar should on the first play of the second half, where she stole the ball from Colgate sophomore G Tricia Oakes and layed it up to give Lehigh a 3 point lead.  As the second half wore on and Colgate battled to a 39-35 deficit, Lehigh's defense made the difference as they only allowed 10 points the rest of the way.  Playing a 3-guard rotation, Dentler (6) sophomore C Alexa Williams (8), senior G Tricia Smith (9), and sophomore F Emily Gratch off the bench (6) grabbed a whopping 47 rebounds - a huge factor in Lehigh's victory.

If Lafayette hopes to win this Saturday at 1:00pm, they'll probably have to keep Lehigh in the 50's the same way Colgate did.  While the Lady Leopards lost to Bucknell yesterday 55-42, the two Patriot League games they've won this year they've held the opposition under 43 points.  (Their win over Holy Cross must have been fun to watch: a 43-39 victory.)  Two of the players that brought them to the championship game last year - junior F Elizabeth Virgin and junior F LaKeisha Wright - return, and they average more than 9 rebounds per game combined.  Junior G Lauren Jackson is also a deep scoring threat (11.7 ppg) after returning from injury. 

It will be important for the Lady Hawks to throw the records out in this one - and maybe take a look a tape of the hard-fought championship game last year.  That game was not easy, and this one won't be either.  The game will be televised on RCN4 in Easton and on Patriot League All-Access.  The radio call will be thanks to Jeff Tourial and broadcast live on 91.3 FM on the Lehigh campus and on Lehighsports.com worldwide.

*****

Lafayette doesn't have a wrestling team, but an EIWA opponent that could be the closest thing to a rival for the No. 8-ranked grapplers would be No. 6-ranked Cornell.  Both the Mountain Hawks and Big Red compete for the top spot in EIWA year in and year out, and this Friday's set of matches have the feel of a championship dual.

Last weekend, Lehigh mopped up with West Virginia (38-3) and pounded EIWA member Navy (28-9).  Senior 133 lb Matt Fisk, senior 141 lb Seth Ciasulli and sophomore 197 lb Joe Kennedy all racked up big wins in those bouts, with both Fisk and Ciasulli getting bonus points.  All three go into this weekend with some serious momentum.

And they'll need it.  Cornell will be a huge challenge, with no fewer than seven ranked wrestlers on their team.  There could be five Top 20 matchups this Friday, and it should be a thrilling match between EIWA rivals.  Start at 133, where No. 14-ranked Fisk will take on Cornell's No 7-ranked Mike Grey and No. 17-ranked Ciasulli will face No. 2-ranked Big Red grappler Kyle Drake.  And that's just for starters.

Senior 165 lb Mike Galante - if he's ready to go - will take on No. 16-ranked Justin Kerber for Cornell, No. 18-ranked freshman 174 lb Robert Hamlin "only" has to take on the No. 1-ranked wrestler at that weight in the country, Mack Lewnes, and No. 15-ranked senior 184 lb David Craig will also take on No. 18-ranked Steve Bosak.

Rivalry week, winter-sports style.  Should make for a great weekend.

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