Crusaders all alone at the top

(Updated: 8:07 a.m.)

Holy Cross' overtime win at American, combined with Lehigh's buzzer-beating win over Bucknell, leaves the Crusaders alone in first, with three schools -- Bucknell, Lehigh and American -- in a logjam for second place and a chance to host in the first two rounds of the tournament.

Don't think that homecourt edge will be important? Just look at how close most games have been between those four so far.

Here's the rundown on Sunday's action:

Holy Cross 76, American 67 (OT): (Full story below) Ever since the Bucknell game, we thought Tim Clifford should be getting more minutes. After his 13-13 lucky double-double against American, you can bet Ralph Willard will agree.

Actually, Ralph has been waiting for Clifford to have this kind of a game. In fact he showed his confidence in the freshman by calling his number two times in a row early in the overtime.

Torey Thomas, who lost his starting job to Pat Doherty after suffering a separated shoulder, also came up big for Holy Cross, scoring 15 points, including 10 in OT, mostly from the foul line (8-for-10 in OT).

Thomas also was big defensively, helping the Crusaders shut down AU's potent guard combo of Jason Thomas and Andre Ingram in the second half, after the two combined for 21 points in the first half. Ingram went scoreless for over a 10-minute stretch in the second half, before scoring 7 points in the last 4:19 of regulation to help force overtime. He missed the back end of a one-and-one with five seconds to go that might have won the game in regulation.

Thomas had just one bucket, a three-pointer with 13:11 to play in regulation, after the half.

Box score | AP wrap | Washington Post

Lehigh 57, Bucknell 54: Joe Knight's buzzer-beating three was the difference as Lehigh forces a three-way tie for second.

From the accounts of the game in the Express-Times and the Morning Call, it sounds a lot like the Holy Cross at Lehigh game, except this time Lehigh was able to score at the end.

The Hawks fell behind early, then started marching to the foul line. Against Holy Cross, Lehigh shot 26 free throws to 19 for the Crusaders. This time the edge was 28-19.

It would be interesting to look at some box scores to see what the difference is in average free throw attempts home and away for some teams. Interesting, but too time consuming for us to bother. Maybe we can get numbers cruncher extraordinaire Matt over at the Patriot League Hoops Blog to run that through his slide rule after he gets over AU's loss to HC.

For the record, we are not suggesting Lehigh didn't deserve the win. They are not the only team to benefit from playing at home. Bucknell, you might recall, had a big edge in free throws when Holy Cross visited back in week one of conference play. We just find it interesting that a team like Lehigh, with basically no inside offensive presence, can pile up that kind of an edge at the line.
Box score | AP wrap

Colgate 62, Lafayette 61: An Alvin Reed free throw with one second left gives 'gate the win.
Box score | AP wrap | Express-Times

Navy 84, Army 69: Vengeance is ours say the Mids. Taj Matthews led the way with 26 points, including six of the Midshipmen's 13 three-pointers.
Box score | AP wrap | Washington Post | Times Herald-Record > | Baltimore Sun

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