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Big-Time Wrestling And Hoops This Weekend

It's been a long, trying week for me, so I haven't had any time to write up the weekends' matchups.  And you'd better believe there's a lot to watch this weekend - Lehigh's wrestlers closing out their EIWA dual schedule with two nationally-ranked opponents, and the men's and women's basketball teams both playing crucial games against - you guessed it - "that school in Easton".

What I'm going to do is paste a bit of each release, with a bit of a commentary from me, perhaps, to hype up the weekend's sports events - just in case they needed hyping up any more already.  (more)



Official wrestling release - No.7-ranked Lehigh takes on No. 22-ranked Rutgers at Stabler Arena on Saturday and then travels to Philly to take on Penn at the Palestra.

Rutgers brings one of its strongest teams in recent memory into Stabler Arena. The Scarlet Knights are 18-4-1 in duals and are currently riding a school-record 14-dual unbeaten streak. Last weekend Rutgers defeated Liberty and American on the road with the two victories moving the Scarlet Knights up one spot to No. 22 in the latest rankings. Rutgers has eight wrestlers in the latest NWCA Coaches Panel rankings, led by heavyweight Dominick Russo, who comes in at No. 10.  In the latest AWN rankings only Russo and Darryl Cocozzo (No. 20 at 157) are ranked in the top 20.

Lehigh and Rutgers wrestlers crossed paths at the Midlands with sophomore heavyweight Zach Rey defeating Russo 7-2 in the quarterfinals, and Rutgers’ Trevor Melde upsetting senior 141 lb Seth Ciasulli in the Round of 16. The Scarlet Knights will have several familiar faces on their bench as John Leonardis (Lehigh ‘97) and Cory Cooperman (Lehigh ‘06) serve on the staff of third-year head coach Scott Goodale. Rutgers will face Drexel on Thursday before visiting Lehigh on Saturday.

Penn enters the final weekend of the regular season at 9-5 overall and 3-1 within the EIWA. The Quakers split a pair of home duals last weekend, losing 31-3 to Cornell on Saturday before rallying to knock off Columbia 22-13 on Sunday. Penn will travel to Princeton on Saturday before hosting the Mountain Hawks on Sunday.  The Quakers have won five of their last six duals. Rob Eiter is in his second season as head coach of the Quakers and currently has seven men ranked in the NWCA Coaches Panel rankings, led by senior Cesar Grajales, who is ranked 11th at 149. Penn has three men ranked in the top 20 by Amateur Wrestling News: Grajales (No. 18 at 149), junior Scott Giffin (No. 12 at 174) and freshman Micah Burak (No. 20 at 197).

Among probable starters from both Penn and Lehigh only the match between senior 133 lb Matt Fisk and Bryan Ortenzio at 133 and one between sophomore 157 lb Sean Bilodeau and Matt Dragon at 157 would be rematches from last year. Dragon did not compete for Penn in the two meets last weekend.
Worthy of mention is that the Lehigh Club of Philadelphia is hosting a brunch & Lehigh Wrestling event from 11:00AM to 1:00 PM at the nearby New Deck Tavern before the game.  The brunch is for Lehigh club members, but it still might serve as a good meeting place before the match at the Palestra.

Coverage for the Rutgers dual will be Doug Heater and Kyle Berger for Service Electric 2 Sports, starting at 1PM Saturday.  (It will also be streamed on Lehighsports.com.)  There is no video coverage of the dual at the Palestra, but Steve Lomangino and Gary Brownell will provide the radio call for 91.3 WLVR, and will also be available on Lehighsports.com as well.


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Official women's basketball release - First place Lady Hawks Take On Lady Leopards In Key Patriot League Contest

Tonight’s game will be the final regular season home game for the Lehigh senior class. Being honored will be senior G Kristen Dalton and senior G Alex Ross. Dalton has been the definition of a team player as she has adjusted to any role the team has needed and has played in 96 games for the Brown and White. Ross has cemented herself as not only the best three-point shooter in team history, but as one of the best in Patriot League history. Her 275 three-pointers currently sit first all-time in the league. Two fifth-year seniors who were honored last season will also be playing their final regular season home games: senior F Ryan Ingalls and senior G Tricia Smith.

Lafayette is coming off a 60-54 win over Bucknell where it used a 13 -0 run late in the game to come back and clip the Bison. The Leopards used free throws to seal the game as they won their third Patriot League game this season and ended their seven game losing streak.
It would make the Lady Leopards' entire season to run senior day for the Lady Hawks, whatever their 5-20 record might indicate.  And with a series of "firsts" on the line as well - a program-first eleven straight victories, a thirty-one game home winning streak and a five game winning streak over "those ladies in Easton" - believe me, this won't be any ordinary game.

Coverage will also be on Service Electric 2 sports at 7:05, featuring Mike Zambelli and Jim Wills calling the action.  On radio, Jeff Tourial will be doing the call for 91.3 WLVR and broadcast on Lehighsports.com.  The video will also be available on Patriot League All-Access.

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Official men's basketball release - Lehigh men look to maintain their slim one-game lead in the Patriot League when they take on their bitter rivals.

Senior G Marquis Hall is already Lehigh’s all-time assists leader and now the Oregon native has his eyes set on the single season assist record.  Hall has dished out 149 helpers this season, which are the third most in one season in school annals.  Hall needs 12 more assists to break the record of 160 set by Mike McKee during the 1993-94 season.  With Hall leading the way the Mountain Hawks pace the P.L. in assists averaging 14.7 per game.

In each of Lehigh’s first two games shown on CBS College Sports, a freshman has stolen the spotlight.  On January 14 at Navy, freshman G C.J. McCollum poured in a then career-high 31 points on 11-of-18 shooting.  Two weeks later on January 31 in Worcester, Massachusetts, freshman F Gabe Knutson sank 11-of-15 shots as he scored a season best 31 points in Lehigh’s first win over Holy Cross at the Hart Center since 1998.
This one promises to be a thriller.  The "road rules" of Patriot League play usually dictate that home court advantage is real, and Lafayette's positioning going into the postseason tournament depend on a win in this game.  The Leopards will do anything to keep from the regular-season sweep, and it should be a great game.  Key will be senior F Zahir Carrington's play underneath: I think that will be the key to the game.

The game will be broadcast live on CBS College Sports with Bob Socci and John "The Last Amateurs" Feinstein and also broadcast on  Patriot League All-Access.  If you're away from your TV set, the game will also be broadcast on AM 1230 and 1320 in the Lehigh Valley, starring Matt Kerr and Jeff Tourial and audiocast on Lehighsports.com.

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