It was a tough start for the Mountain Hawks’ men’s basketball team. Many wrote the team off after losses in its first four games.
However, the team has overcome the adversity and is now playing much better. The team is now focused and playing well, as it has won its past four games.
Starting off the season by playing the 12th–ranked Villanova University Wildcats was by no means an easy task. The Hawks were only down by only two points at the half, but they were doomed by problems with turnovers and fouling and fell 77-66. The Hawks then had two more close losses to Canisius College and Rider University before losing their fourth straight game to Columbia University right before Thanksgiving.
“By losing those games early on, we were able to find out real quickly what we have to do to win and what not to do,” said sophomore center Tim Kempton, who leads the team in scoring with 14.3 points per game.
Kempton, as well as the rest of the players, knew they had to try something different to win games, and that is exactly what they did.
The team captured its first win of the season on a road trip to DePaul University on Nov. 26. The Hawks continued their success by blowing out Pennsylvania State University Mont Alto and winning a 61-59 game against Saint Francis University on Dec. 3.
“We have built this winning streak by playing off of our defense and feeding off of our defense instead of relying on our offense for energy, because sometimes shots will not fall,” Kempton said.
Kempton has already begun a successful sophomore campaign by leading the team in both scoring and rebounding.
Along with Kempton’s scoring ability, sophomore Austin Price is looking to continue his success after earning a spot on the Patriot League All-Rookie Team last season. So far this season, Price has averaged 12.3 points per game, shooting 41 percent from the field. Price is a speedy guard who has the breakout ability to take games over with his shooting ability. He recently displayed this skill when he made the winning shot against Saint Francis in the final minute of the game to secure a Lehigh victory.
Starting off 0-4 is no ideal start for any team, but it might be a blessing in disguise.
“We have been able to learn a few lessons early that will benefit us as we keep going,” junior forward Justin Goldsborough said. “As a team, we continue to stay motivated by doing it for the guys next to us and, more specifically, for our seniors.”
Goldsborough, as well as the rest of his team, would want nothing more than to help their seniors end their Lehigh basketball careers on top with a Patriot League Championship.
The Hawks currently have an overall record of 4-4, with 21 more regular-season games to be played and conference games soon approaching. The Mountain Hawks are currently in the midst of four straight road trips, which began with an 80-76 victory over LIU Brooklyn, and will take on Quinnipiac University on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. After that, they will play Arizona State University on Dec. 20 at 9 p.m. in a game that will be a homecoming for Scottsdale, Arizona, native Kempton.
“The ultimate goal of this season is a conference championship, but as long as we practice hard and play hard, the rest will take care of itself,” junior guard Devon Carter said.
With a couple wins under its belt, the team is now able to build some confidence and start learning its identity as a team.
“It’s fun to win,” Kempton said. “Losing is the worst feeling in this world, and to be able to build this streak going into finals and then hopefully into Patriot League play come January, we will be able to be playing at our best and continue this run until March.”