Ever since the start of the season, Dec. 20 was a day circled on Arizona-native and Lehigh men’s basketball player Tim Kempton’s calendar. However, not even he and his Mountain Hawk teammates could have anticipated such a wild and exhilarating night.
Lehigh University overcame the Arizona State Sun Devils, defeating them 84-81 after a three-overtime game.
After the Nov. 26 victory at DePaul University, the Hawks were able to repeat their success by dishing out the first home loss for the Sun Devils so far on the season. It was an especially big day for Lehigh’s sophomore center Kempton. Not only did he get another double-double, but he also had the opportunity to play right near where he grew up in Arizona.
The half began with a relatively low scoring back and forth series of events that saw the Hawks and Sun Devils tied at 18 with just over five minutes to go. Early on, Corey Schaefer set the tone by making an early 3-point shot.
However, an excellent run at the end of the half put Lehigh on top at 32-24. The team converted six 3 pointers, all by different players. After Schaefer, sophomore Austin Price, senior Stefan Cvrkalj, freshman guard Brandon Alston, junior forward Jesse Chuku and sophomore guard Miles Simelton joined the team on the court.
The second half also continued the momentum, as freshman guard Kahron Ross continued his excellent night by making a 3-point jumper to put the team ahead 35-26.
Buckets by Kempton and junior forward Justin Goldsborough added to the score, and a second 3 from Price extended the lead to 42-33, making the unprecedented even more possible.
Another three from Schaefer, followed by a converted layup and free throw from Kempton led to the team’s high water mark, bringing the score up to 50-38. However, after 9 points unanswered by the Sun Devils, the lead was cut to just 3.
The rest of the half went back and forth until the two-minute mark, when a Chance Murray layup tied the game at 61 for the first tie score since the first half. The half ended with the score tied at 64 after Murray missed a would-be game-winning jumper.
In the first overtime, another Murray layup and two free throws put the Hawks in a 4-point hole. They overcame this by answering with two Kempton free throws and a Price layup.
With the score tied 68-68, the second overtime also put Lehigh behind, needing to score three unanswered points. Each team scored seven, as Ross and Price provided an offensive spark.
The Hawks then began their first three-overtime game since Feb. 14, 2009 against Army. Unlike before, the Hawks never had to climb out of a hole. Successful shots by Ross and Goldsborough were enough to give the Hawks a three-point advantage with two minutes left, and it held after a series of fouls and free throws, and then a last minute 3-point attempt by Arizona State.
In additional to Kempton’s double-double (16 points and 11 rebounds), the Hawks were picked up on offense by Goldsborough and Price, with 10 and 18 points respectively.
However, it was Ross who had the best game in his short time of being starting point guard by not only getting 15 points, but also 14 of the team’s 20 assists.
This game continued the Hawks’ overtime successes, as they were 3-0 in overtime games last season. However, none were over an opponent with the profile of the PAC 12’s Arizona State.
The Hawks move to 5-5, while the Sun Devils drop to 6-5.
Lehigh’s next game is at University of Maryland at Baltimore County on Dec. 28.