For the first time this season, the Lehigh men’s basketball team has won consecutive games after a 72-49 blowout victory over American University. The Mountain Hawks never trailed on their way to their sixth Patriot League victory of the year.
“Our players were able to perform at a high level and were also able to perform with the maturity, discipline, and energy we’ve been asking for,” coach Brett Reed said. “Our guys demonstrated the type of team they can be. We just want consistency.”
The Hawks came out the gate scorching and maintained a big lead through the whole game. Lehigh (8-14, 6-5 Patriot) began the game on a 12-0 run, displaying consistent ball movement and unselfish basketball. The Hawks matched their offensive explosion with some stellar defense on the other end of the court. They held the Eagles scoreless for the first six minutes of the game.
After consecutive fast-break layups from freshman guard Kyle Leufroy, Lehigh had its largest lead of the game at 32-16 with 5:52 left in the half. At that point the Hawks’ offense was shooting an eye-popping 74 percent from the field. Leufroy, who is a strong candidate for Patriot League Rookie of the Year, was the focal point of Lehigh’s first half success as he led the team with nine points at the break.
“I’ve been working on my game with coach Antoni Wyche,” Leufroy said. “When someone like Kahron (Ross) or Tim (Kempton) find me, I just stay aggressive and take open shots.”
The Mountain Hawks took a 38-28 lead into the locker room. Eight different Lehigh players scored in the first half.
After starting the first half with a 12-0 run, Lehigh topped that with a 16-0 run to begin the second half anchored by junior big man Tim Kempton, who attributed for eight of the first 16 points. Lehigh refused to relent as the run grew to 24-1 capped off by a deep three-pointer from junior guard Austin Price. The Eagles didn’t convert a field goal until the 9:29 mark as the Mountain Hawk defense forced them into tough shots and bad decisions.
Lehigh led by as much as 33 points in the second half. Senior forward Justin Goldsborough put an exclamation point to the dominant victory with an emphatic dunk over an American defender in the waning moments of the game. The dunk brought the crowd of 1380 people, a season-high attendance at Stabler Arena, to its feet.
Kempton tallied 13 of his 17 points in the second half to go along with his nine rebounds while Leufroy added 12 points. Kempton was the beneficiary of passes from senior forward Jesse Chuku, who accumulated a career-high seven assists. Nine of the 10 active Mountain Hawks contributed to the lopsided win with a field goal.
“We were never satisfied at any point in the game and that’s why we had this outcome today,” Kempton said. “We are able to play with fun and excitement tonight because we never put ourselves in a hole.”
With the victory, Lehigh can move into a five-way tie for second place with a victory on Monday.
Lehigh will travel to Easton to take on arch-rival Lafayette College in a game that was originally scheduled on Jan. 23, but was postponed due to the snowstorm that hit the area.