March 5, 2006
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Junior guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) scored 20 points and pulled down nine rebounds, to lead the Holy Cross men's basketball team to a 73-66 victory over Lehigh at the Hart Center, in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament. The Crusaders improve to 20-11 on the season with the victory, and advance to the conference championship game on Friday, March 10. Holy Cross will play at Bucknell in a 4:30 p.m. contest which will be shown live on ESPN2. Lehigh concludes its season with a record of 19-12.
After the Mountain Hawks began the game with a 4-0 lead, Holy Cross went on an 11-2 run to take a five-point lead after seven minutes of play. But the score stayed close throughout a first half which featured six ties and three lead changes. The score was tied at 17-17 with 5:53 left before the break, before Holy Cross used a 9-3 run to take a six-point lead. The Crusaders were still up by six points (32-36) at halftime.
Holy Cross then scored the first four points of the second half to go up but 10 points, but Lehigh refused to go away. The Mountain Hawks quickly cut the lead back down to three points, and trailed by just one (43-42) with 11:56 left in the game. Holy Cross then used a 9-0 spurt to build its lead back to 10 points, including five straight points from senior guard Kevin Hamilton (Queens Village, N.Y). Lehigh was able to get no closer than four points down the stretch, as the Crusaders made eight of 10 free throw attempts in the final minute of play to secure the win.
Hamilton finished the game with 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, while making 14 of 15 free throw attempts. Junior guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) added 11 points, five rebounds and four assists for Holy Cross. Lehigh was led by Joe Knight, who totaled 23 points, six rebounds, five steals and three assists, despite making just six of 18 field goal attempts.