Posted: February 6, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lehigh snapped American’s 20-game home Patriot League win streak on Saturday afternoon with a 77-65 victory over the Eagles at Bender Arena in the nation’s capital. Four Mountain Hawks scored in double figures led by senior Zahir Carrington with 20 points, while freshman C.J. McCollum recorded his first career double-double with 19 points and a career-best 13 rebounds. With the win Lehigh remains in first place in the Patriot League with a 6-2 league mark and the Mountain Hawks equal their win total from all of last season as they improve to 15-8 overall. Vlad Moldoveanu scored a game-high 24 points for the Eagles who fall to 7-16 overall and 4-4 in the league.
“This was a great road win for our team today on a day when we faced a lot of obstacles just to get to the arena,” Mountain Hawks head coach Brett Reed said afterwards, referring to the enormous snowstorm that hit the Washington, D.C. area. “Credit our seniors for keeping the team focused and ready to play on a day when it could have been easy to not come out with the intensity and focus needed on the road in the Patriot League.”
He continued, “Our senior class made sure we got off the bus with a lot of focus and determination and I thought we played very well down the stretch. We answered some big shots by American with big baskets of our own and we did a great job at the foul line. It’ll be great to return home on Wednesday evening to Stabler Arena after a very long and difficult road trip for our team.”
Lehigh wound up shooting 44% for the game, which included a strong 52% showing in the final 20 minutes. Joining Carrington and McCollum in double figures were senior Marquis Hall with 18 and freshman Gabe Knutson with 10. Lehigh did a great job on the glass on Saturday out-rebounding the Eagles 35-30 led by McCollum’s 13 caroms and Knutson’s nine. Hall and McCollum led the Brown and White with four assists apiece and as a team the Mountain Hawks turned the ball over only seven times. Lehigh forced AU into 14 turnovers and converted those chances into 15 points.
Joe Hill was the only other American player to hit double digits, but he connected on just 4-of-15 shots from the floor as the Eagles shot 45% as a team. Moldoveanu led the Eagles with six boards, while Daniel Munoz was the team leader in assists with five.
The first half was tight throughout with American opening up its largest lead at 15-9 on the strength of a Moldoveanu three-pointer at the 13:45 mark. Lehigh scored the next five points however to pull within one on a free throw from McCollum with 10:02 on the first half clock. A three from Munoz with 3:36 left before halftime again gave American a six-point cushion, but from there the Mountain Hawks outscored the Eagles 9-0 capped by a Carrington bucket just before the buzzer to give the Brown and White a 30-27 lead heading into the locker room.
Hall scored nine first half points to lead Lehigh, while Carrington added eight and McCollum scored seven. The Mountain Hawks shot only 38% in the opening 20 minutes but out rebounded the Eagles 19-15 with Hall, McCollum and Knutson all pulling down five caroms. Lehigh went to the foul line eight times and made five of those attempts and the Mountain Hawks did a terrific job of protecting the basketball, committing only three turnovers.
Moldoveanu was nearly unstoppable in the half as he hit six-of-ten shots en route to 16 of the Eagles’ 27 points. No other American player scored more than five points as the home team shot 44% from the floor as a team. Lumpkins led American on the glass with four rebounds, while McCormack was the team leader in assists with three. Lehigh forced AU into eight turnovers and the Mountain Hawks turned those miscues into seven points.
AU opened the second half with four straight points to pull within one at 32-21 but three straight dunks by Lehigh, including two from Carrington and one by Knutson put the Mountain Hawks ahead 36-31. Senior captain Matt Shamis then drilled a three and Lehigh found itself up 39-33 with 15:07 to play. A McCollum three-pointer, this one at the 13 minute mark gave the Mountain Hawks their biggest lead of the day at 46-36.
The Eagles got within five at the 8:01 mark when Matthew Wilson got inside for a basket, but Lehigh answered as Hall drained a long three-pointer to give the Brown and White a 58-50 advantage. Two free throws by Carrington with 4:45 on the clock again gave Lehigh a double digit lead and a three from senior Dave Buchberger with 3:41 to go all but sealed the win for the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh sank all 12 of its free throw attempts in the final 2:54 to bring American’s home league win streak to an end. It’s the second time under Reed that Lehigh has ended a league opponent’s home win streak after the Mountain Hawks snapped Bucknell’s 38-game win streak in 2008.
Lehigh - American Post-Game Extra
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks return home for the first time since January 23 as they welcome the Navy Midshipmen to Stabler Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:05 and tickets may be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by logging onto Lehighsports.com or at the arena box office prior to tip-off.