In a highly anticipated matchup between the Patriot League preseason No. 1 and No. 3, the Lehigh men’s basketball team knocked off undefeated Bucknell University 82-71 at Sojka Pavilion on Wednesday night.
After squandering an 18-point lead in the second half, the Mountain Hawks (9-7, 3-2 Patriot) found themselves in a 60-60 tie with eight minutes left to play in the game. Lehigh had to fend off a 19-4 Bison run with Patriot League leading scorer Tim Kempton on the bench. The senior big man picked up his fourth foul with just under 12 minutes in regulation.
Both teams traded buckets up until the six-minute mark with Lehigh never surrendering the lead. With the game knotted up at 66, the Mountain Hawks began inching away anchored by freshman point guard Jordan Cohen. Cohen connected on a 3-pointer to put Lehigh up five, and then on the ensuing possession, Cohen came up with a steal and a breakaway layup to push Lehigh’s lead to 73-66 with 4:38 remaining. Kempton would later return and clinch the victory with a layup plus a foul to give the Mountain Hawks an 80-71 lead with just over a minute left to play.
In the first half, it was another freshman who helped pace the Mountain Hawks. Forward Pat Andree tallied 10 of his 16 total points in the first half including two 3-pointers. His second 3-pointer put Lehigh up 38-24 late in the second half but Bucknell would scratch its way back in the game as the Mountain Hawks took a 40-34 advantage into the locker room.
Out of the break, Lehigh jumped out to a 12-0 run behind three 3-pointers coming from Kempton, Andree and senior Austin Price. The Mountain Hawks had their largest lead of the game at 18, but the Bison refused to go away as they would eventually fight back to even the game up before Lehigh regrouped in the final minutes of the game.
Kempton led the way with 20 points and eight rebounds. Price chipped in 16 points while junior Kahron Ross added 11 points to go along with five assists. The Lehigh bench was a big factor to the victory as it totaled 31 of the team’s 82 points. Andree’s 16 points led the bench while Cohen tallied seven points, all of which were in the second half. Junior Brandon Alston had eight points, including some important buckets down the stretch.
The Mountain Hawks connected on 10 of their 17 attempted 3’s while also shooting 50 percent from the field and 82 percent from the free throw line.
Lehigh will return to action Saturday for a rematch of last year’s Patriot League Championship against Holy Cross. The game is slated for a 2 p.m. start from Stabler Arena.