March 7, 2004
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - Kevin Tempest and Jose Olivero scored 12 points each and top-seeded Lehigh parlayed an early 23-2 run into a 60-45 victory over No. 4 Bucknell in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals Sunday evening at The Show Place Arena.
Bucknell, appearing in the tournament semis for the 11th time in 14 years in the Patriot League, concludes its 2003-04 season at 14-15. Lehigh (19-10) advances to the Patriot League title game against either American or Colgate next Sunday in Bethlehem, Pa.
Charles Lee and Kevin Bettencourt scored 10 points each for Bucknell, which grabbed a quick 6-0 lead on consecutive 3-pointers by Bettencourt. But Lehigh stunned the Bison by scoring 23 of the game's next 25 points over a span of 9:12. Kyle Neptune's layup tied the game at 6-all and Jason Mgebroff's tip-in gave the Mountain Hawks the lead for good at the 11:22 mark.
A 3-pointer just before the expiration of the shot clock and a driving layup by Austen Rowland stretched the lead into double figures at 21-8, and Olivero capped the run with an elbow jumper to make it 23-8 before Bettencourt hit his third 3-pointer of the half.
A three-point play from Donald Brown and a Chris Niesz layup cut it to 25-16 with 3:54 left, but Lehigh held the Bison to just four Matt Quinn free throws over the rest of the half and outscored Bucknell 11-4 to assume a 36-20 lead at the break.
Bucknell held Lehigh without a field goal for the first 5:08 of the game but could not extend its lead thanks to a 2-for-9 start from the floor. Lehigh missed its first eight shots of the night but went 11-for-14 the rest of the half.
Bucknell closed within eight at 50-42 on a pair of Lee free throws with 4:57 to play, but Earl Nurse answered with two free throws after a foul in the backcourt. After three straight Bison misses, Nick Monserez canned a long 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock to make it 55-42 with 2:57 left.
Lehigh used a swarming defense to limit Bucknell to 31.8 percent shooting and its lowest point total in 29 Patriot League Tournament games.
Bettencourt finished with three 3-pointers and tied the Bucknell single-season record for treys with 72. J.R. Holden also had 72 in 1996-97. Chris McNaughton, who logged seven points and seven rebounds, finishes fourth on Bucknell's freshman scoring chart with 334 points.
The Bison finished the season with 11 wins in their last 15 games and return all five starters next season. Seniors Matt Quinn, Roland Webber, Davorin Skornik, Jack Namvou and Jeremiah Bennett finished the game on the floor in their final collegiate appearance.