As the Lehigh basketball teams enter the final stretch of league games before the Patriot League Championships, the men struggle to find consistency while the women continue to make positive strides.
Tim Kempton, ’17, led last year’s men’s team to a 20-12 overall record, a 12-6 league record and a chance at the Patriot League Championship title. This year’s team, however, has struggled to find its own identity after losing past leadership.
Earlier in the season, senior guard Kahron Ross and junior guard Kyle Leufroy stepped up as the team’s new duo of captains. On Jan. 2, at the United States Naval Academy, Ross became the player with the most assists in Patriot League history with 600, besting the previous record of 599 that was set in 2004.
Despite the historic moment earlier in the season, the team has since had trouble finding its footing. Two recent losses — 91-88 to Loyola University on Jan. 24 and 77-75 to Navy on Saturday — are characteristic of the close losses the Lehigh men’s basketball team (9-13, 4-7 PL) has been giving up this season.
Coach Brett Reed said he hopes his team can reverse its rocky season so far and return to performing at the level of play he knows his players are capable of.
“We have to take every game one game at a time,” Reed said. “We’ve had inconsistency in the performance, which has been shown with major swings in the last couple weeks. Ultimately, our defensive consistency has to improve. However, our teamwork has been very solid and we have had a positive morale.”
Reed said he has high expectations for his team to work hard and compete to its full potential every day for the remainder of the season.
Reed said it’s rewarding to watch a team work hard during practices and see it pay off during games.
“I like how, early in the year, we had a lot of close contests, and we persevered together and won the right way,” Reed said. “It wasn’t based on any one person playing the right way. The team was committed and that translated into success.”
Reed named Marist College, Sienna College, Princeton University and Lafayette College as competitive opponents that challenged his players, who, despite playing close games, managed to pull off well-deserved wins each time.
The team got back on track after losing four straight games with a 71-67 victory at the College of the Holy Cross on Monday.
Improving consistency and confidence in their game will be key as the Mountain Hawks play the top two teams in the Patriot League, Bucknell University and Boston University, starting with Boston at home on Saturday. The final seven league games in the men’s basketball regular season are against top-10 competitors, concluding with rival Lafayette on Feb. 24.
The Lehigh women’s basketball team (12-9, 6-4 PL) finished last season with an overall record of 10-20 and a league record of 5-13. However, the women have since turned last year’s disappointments around.
The Mountain Hawks were ranked seventh in the Patriot League preseason poll. The team sits in fourth position in the league at this point in the season, in contention to host a Patriot League quarterfinal in February.
Coach Sue Troyan acknowledged the high level of competition in the Patriot League this year and praised the team’s performances at home. So far this season, the team has a 9-1 home record.
“The key is to stay in the hunt and finish,” Troyan said. “We’ve had some good wins at home, but we need to improve on the road to achieve our goal.”
Key victories included defeating Navy on Jan. 2, 66-63, and beating the defending league champions Bucknell on Jan. 11, 66-62.
A standout player this season is sophomore guard Camryn Buhr, who has shined as one of the top scorers for the team, behind senior guard Quinci Mann.
Averaging 13.1 points per game and totaling 275 points, Buhr attributes her personal success to the team’s cohesion and ability to play a good game.
“The team has a lot more confidence than it did last year,” she said. “We are also having a lot more fun together and that makes playing the games that much better.”
One of Buhr’s favorite game memories was the contest against Lafayette on Dec. 29, 2017, which resulted in a 70-45 victory for the Mountain Hawks.
The team’s eight remaining league games of the regular season are all against top-10 opponents, starting with Boston Saturday on the road. Contests against the top two teams in the Patriot League, American University and Bucknell, will follow.