The Lehigh men’s basketball team will conclude its regular season with a game against Lafayette College at Stabler Arena on Saturday night.
The last time the Mountain Hawks (15-13, 10-7 PL) lost to the Leopards (9-19, 7-10 PL) was in 2015. Senior guard Kahron Ross is the only member on this season’s roster to have experienced the defeat.
Lehigh has a seven-game winning streak and is focused on carrying its momentum forward into the postseason with a victory against its longtime rival. To do that, the team is going to need the help of players like junior guard Lance Tejada.
Tejada is one of the team’s biggest scoring threats going into this game, leading the team in scoring with 370 points this season, averaging 14.8 points per game and recording the highest 3-point percentage at 0.475.
The Mountain Hawks have spent their season building up to a point that Tejada said they’re happy with.
“It takes time to get to a certain level of play, and we have gotten that,” he said. “We are just focusing on one game at a time, but this game is definitely going to be competitive.”
Lehigh played Lafayette for the Mountain Hawks’ Patriot League opener this season and came out with a 79-74 victory. Now, they have the chance to end league play on the same note on which they started.
“These are two key games that we have had to approach intensely,” sophomore forward Pat Andree said. “We started strong, and we want to finish strong.”
Andree said he’s excited about the anticipated turnout of the game, considering it’s the last one of the team’s regular season, and it’s at home.
“Anytime the school shows up and supports, we always get a little more hyped up,” he said.
The Mountain Hawks will look to Andree as another top scorer, with 355 points this season and a 3-point percentage of 0.439.
While the rest of team is young, the Lafayette game will be the last regular season home game in which Ross, the sole senior, plays.
“This game means a lot, especially with the career he has had and the legacy he has left,” Andree said. “It would be great to have our last win of the season against Lafayette for him.”
Sophomore guard Jordan Cohen called Ross “the best point guard in the league” and credited his own development to working with and competing against Ross in practices.
“I am going to miss him and the influence he has,” Cohen said. “He is such a great captain and leader for our team.”
While the rivalry between both teams is competitive, it is also familiar.
“For us, it is a close rivalry,” Andree said. “We play pickup with (the Leopards) over the summer. They know us, we know them. So the competitive juices really come out.”
This game sets the tone for the rivalry and the Patriot League Tournament. Lafayette is the team’s last game before the tournament begins March 1 with a quarterfinal game, and Cohen said the Mountain Hawks want to kick off the postseason with the momentum they’ve carried throughout February.
“Who better to beat than Lafayette?” Tejada asked.