Lehigh, Bucknell Renew Rivalry in Lewisburg Thursday Night

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BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania – The Lehigh men’s basketball team, which has won four of their last five, will face rival Bucknell at the Sojka Pavilion Thursday night. The opening tip is set for 7:00 p.m. on ESPN +. The Mountain Hawks are 3-1 in the Patriot League game and are second overall after a 77-69 win over Holy Cross on Monday night. Bucknell competes 0-4 in the league and 3-13 overall, but this season 3-2 at home.

10-9 behind on Monday, the Mountain Hawks used a 15-0 run to open a 14-point lead and they would lead the rest of the way by at least six. At the start of the second half, Holy Cross drew within 41:35, but Lehigh responded immediately with a 7-0 run and the Mountain Hawks held a relatively comfortable advantage the rest of the way. In the end, Lehigh won for the fourth time in five games – the best stretch of five games since the 4-1 at the end of the regular season in the Patriot League Tournament 2019-20. It’s the Mountain Hawks’ best stretch of the regular season since winning the five-of-six win from January 23 to February 9, 2019.

Fifth grader Marques Wilson led Lehigh on Monday with 17 points, 12 of them in the second half. Junior Evan Taylor scored his first double-double of the season and the fourth of his career with 15 points (12 in the second half) and 12 rebounds (a season high). Taylor was 3-of-4 out of 3-point range while Wilson finished 2-of-4 from afar, as was Keith Higgins Jr. in the first year, who scored 12 points – his fifth straight game in double digits. The second Dominic Parolin scored 12 points and nine rebounds (10 points and six rebounds of them in the second half). It was his second game in a row with 10 points in the second half. Meanwhile, Tyler Whitney-Sidney scored nine points in his first year that were high in his career, plus five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

The Mountain Hawks only had four losses in the second half to finish for the game at 11; after 16.4 sales per game in non-league games, Lehigh has only committed 10.8 per competition in the league. Defensively, the Mountain Hawks kept the Crusaders goalless during their 15-0 run over six minutes. Holy Cross was 0 for 8 at that distance, shooting just 33.8 percent for the game, a season high for Lehigh’s defense. In the end, Lehigh won his fourth straight series against Holy Cross, improving to 7-2 over the last nine against the Crusaders.

The Bison have lost five in a row and eight of the last nine, but they’ve done it with stiff competition (including Boston University, Army West Point, Navy and Loyola to play in the league). The bison wins this season over Rider, Siena (in extra time) and La Salle. Andrew Funk leads Bucknell and is second in the Patriot League on points (18.1), while Xander Rice (11.8) and Andre Screen (10.5) also average double-digit points. Screen leads the bison on rebound (6.6 per game) while Rice is first on assists (59 in 16 games). Bucknell is 3-3 at home, 0-9 on the street and 0-2 in games on neutral spots.

Bucknell beat the Mountain Hawks 4-0 last season and improved to 111-69 in the all-time series. The Bison have won a total of eight of the last nine against Lehigh, with the Mountain Hawks’ win coming on their Senior Day in 2020 – a 69-60 wire-to-wire win. Lehigh won four out of five in the series between 2015 and 2017. Bucknell is Lehigh’s second most-played rival of all time, just behind Lafayette. The teams first met in 1902.

After Thursday’s game, the Mountain Hawks will return home on Sunday to meet Loyola at 2 p.m.

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Date: January 13, 2022
Opponent: Bucknell bison
Tip: 19 o’clock
Arena (capacity): Jay Pavilion (4,000)
Location: Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
Lehigh’s record: 5-11, 3-1 Patriot League
Bucknell’s record: 3-13, 0-4 Patriot League
Series: Bucknell cable, 111-69
TV: ESPN +
Radio: Fox Sports Radio 94.7 FM & 1230 AM

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