Mountain Hawks Close Regular Season vs. Leopards this Weekend
BETHLEHEM, PA. – The Lehigh men’s basketball team will end its regular season this weekend as it began by facing arch-rivals Lafayette in two major competitions. The Mountain Hawks will travel to Easton on Saturday at 4 p.m. before they line up the leopards on Sunday at 6 p.m. on Senior Night as the program honors its lone Senior Marques Wilson. Lehigh has had an ups and downs weekend that ended with a good result – a 76-72 win against an up-and-coming Loyola team.
The Mountain Hawks made an impressive recovery after a 28-point home defeat on Saturday, which was their first game in February after a two-week hiatus. Lehigh must have shaken off any rust as he led almost 29 minutes to the competition on Sunday. Once the Mountain Hawks got a 9-0 run in the middle of the first half, they wouldn’t leave the rest of the game behind despite the persistent greyhounds. With an even performance, Reed Fenton hit a career high of 19 points in his sophomore year (originally against Loyola last year). Freshman Dominic Parolin was a big story, hitting career highs in points (15) and rebounds (10) for his double-double in his first career. Sophomore Evan Taylor just missed his fourth double-double in six games, scoring 15 points and nine rebounds. With 11 rebounds on Saturday, he now has 59 boards in his last six games (after 26 of his first six competitions). Taylor now leads the team in rebounding (7.1), which is good for fifth place in the Patriot League.
Meanwhile, newcomer Ben Li ended a tough weekend with 10 points in 3-of-4, a game after a career-best performance of 13 points on Saturday. Marques Wilson hit a season high of six assists on Sunday, his first time with five or more assists since last March in Loyola. As a team, the Mountain Hawks had a season high of 15 steals, which was also the highest in Brett Reed’s 14 seasons as Lehigh head coach.
Lehigh starts this weekend with a tie for seventh place in the overall ranking of the Patriot League. On Thursday, the league announced a revised league tournament format in which all 10 teams advance. The three division winners form the top three seeds, followed by sowing based on the Patriot League’s overall record (which is also different from the original format). The Mountain Hawks are currently affiliated with Loyola but are just a short hop from sixth-placed Boston University. Lehigh could still finish anywhere from sixth place (excluding the first round of the Patriot League tournament, which is now scheduled for Wednesday, March 3rd) to tenth place (meaning he’s on the first round). If the Mountain Hawks finished seventh or eighth, they would host a game in the first round for a second straight season.
Lafayette last played at Loyola on February 14, an 88-69 loss. The only opponent the Leopards have faced this month were the greyhounds 2-2. The teams also played twice in January, both Lafayette wins. At the end of the Leopard regular season, only four different opponents will be represented – Loyola (6), Lehigh (4), Bucknell (2) and Boston University (2). Justin Jaworski is in seventh place in the nation (21.8), while his older colleague EJ Stephens is second (16.5) and Neal Quinn also averages double-digit points in his second year (10.5). Quinn, a striker / center, is third in the Patriot League in assists per game (4.3). Lafayette is ranked second in the league (77.9 points per game).
Lehigh and Lafayette separated the two previous meetings of the season on January 2nd and 3rd. Senior Marques Wilson hit a long 3-pointer when the season opener ran out, a shot that SportsCenter led that night. The Mountain Hawks opened a 16-2 lead the following day, but Lafayette fought their way back 82-70 and took a 145-91 lead in the all-time series. Overall, Lehigh has still won 10 of the last 12 meetings, including four of the last five at home and six of the last seven on the street. The long-standing rivals met for the first time in the 1901/92 season, a 46-13 victory for Lehigh. Lehigh won the first four games, with Lafayette’s first victory coming in 1914-15.
After this weekend, the Mountain Hawks are looking forward to the Patriot League tournament, either the first round on Wednesday (if they have 7-10 seeds) or the quarter-finals (if they have 6 seeds).
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|Date:||February 27 and 28, 2021|
|Tip:||4 p.m. (February 27)
6 p.m. (February 28)
|Arena:||Kirby Sports Center (02/27)
Stabler Arena (2/28)
|Place:||Easton, Pa. (2/27)
Bethlehem, Pa. (2/28)
|Lehigh’s record:||4-8 PL, 1-5 central|
|Lafayette’s record:||7-5 PL, 3-1 central|
|Series:||Lafayette leads, 145-91|
|TV:||ESPN + (both days), Service Electric Network (channel 2) (Sunday)|
|Radio:||Fox Sports 1230/1320 AM / 94.7 FM (both days)|