HC, BU alone at 1-2

(Last updated: 9:17 a.m.)

Holy Cross 73, Lehigh 53: Torey Thomas returned to the starting lineup and dished out 11 assists and made five steals as the Crusaders mathematically eliminated Lehigh from contention for the regular season title. Any combination of HC wins or Bucknell losses adding up to 2 will clinch the top spot for HC, which can finish no lower than second.

The story in the Boston Herald makes it sound like Thomas regained the starting job because he is finally healthy after the shoulder injury. But I am not sure that is the case.

You'd have to ask Ralph Willard, but I think it was more a matter of him winning the job back from freshman Pat Doherty, who has played well in place of Thomas, but at times last weekend at Navy and American looked a little like a deer in the headlights.

It is not like this is the first Thomas has been healthy enough to play. He had been getting plenty of minutes off the bench. But based on some of Willard's comments after the Navy and American games, we're guessing that he just feels more comfortable with Thomas back in the starting role down the stretch.

Kevin Hamilton had 20 points for Holy Cross. Greg Kinsey (11) and Nate Lufkin (10), who missed the last two games with a sprained ankle, also reached double figures.

Matt Kalman, stringing for the Express-Times, summed it up pretty well:
The Patriot League's premier field-goal percentage defense sprung a leak for most of Sunday's 40 minutes of basketball and the result was Lehigh's elimination from the race for the conference's top seed.
The story, though, was the Holy Cross defense, which held Lehigh to 19 points in the first half on 5-of-20 (25 percent) shooting from the field. The second half didn't get much better for Lehigh, which finished the game 16-of-52 (30.8 percent).

In that Express-Times story, Lehigh coach Billy Taylor pointed out how much of Holy Cross' offense was the result of its defense:
We gave up 53 percent from the floor and that's just not acceptable. A lot of it was in transition off of blocked shots and steals ...
Lehigh's Joe Knight, coming off back-to-back 20 point games, had 8 points on 2-for-15 shooting. The only Mountain Hawk to reach double figures was Jose Olivero, who had 12 points to show for his 3-of-12 effort from the floor.

Box score | AP wrap| HC recap | Lehigh recap | Telegram&Gazette story

Bucknell 71, Navy 60: Charles Lee had 22 points and Abe Badmus added 10 points and 6 assists as Bucknell completed its weekend revenge sweep with a win over Navy. The Bison are the only team still mathematically with a chance of catching Holy Cross, though they will need some outside help to pull that off.

More realistic, Bucknell can clinch the No. 2 seed and homecourt for the first two rounds of the league tournament with any combination of Bucknell wins or Lehigh losses adding up to two.
Box score | AP wrap| Bucknell recap | Navy recap | Daily Item story

Colgate 67, American 57: The Colgate win leaves these two teams tied for fourth in the conference with three games to play. Right now, American holds the tiebreaker edge (Colgate has lost to Navy) and the Eagles still appear to have a scheduling edge in the final three games. Colgate must play Holy Cross at home, and at Army and Bucknell. American makes the Lehigh Valley trip (at Lafayette, at Lehigh) and has Navy at home. In the unlikely event of a tie, AU would likely wear the white jerseys in the first round by virtue of its higher RPI.
Box score | AP wrap | Colgate recap| AU recap |

Lafayette 76, Army 73: Lafayette pulls into a tie with Navy for sixth with the win over Army. Both teams play the same opponents -- Lehigh, American and each other-- in the final three weeks. The difference between sixth and seventh is significant. The seventh place team would will play the number two team on its own floor. The sixth place team will get No. 3 in a neutral site.
Box score | AP wrap | Army recap | Lafayette recap | Times Herald-Record story

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