BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh men’s basketball team wrapped up nonleague play with a strong 81-46 win over fellow Lehigh Valley foe Muhlenberg on Tuesday evening in Stabler Arena. Four Mountain Hawks (10-4) finished with double-figure points, led by a season-high 15 from junior Anthony D’Orazio. Sophomore Corey Schaefer added a career-high 11 assists, the most by a Lehigh player in three years.
“One of the biggest opportunities we have now is to get some players who’ve played some minutes a chance to get out there and work through some kinks, and that’s really important,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “We were able to figure out what works and what doesn’t work a little tonight.”
D’Orazio fell just two points shy of tying his career high of 17 set in his first collegiate game at Penn State. Senior Holden Greiner added 14 points while senior Gabe Knutson had 13 and sophomore Stefan Cvrkalj posted 12. Freshman Justin Goldsborough impressed in extended minutes with a career-high six points and eight rebounds, which was also a team high. Sophomore Conroy Baltimore tied a career high with nine points to go with five boards.
Schaefer knocked down both of his field goal attempts and finished with six points, to go with his career-high 11 assists. Marquis Hall was the last Mountain Hawk to reach double figures in that category when he had 10 against Bucknell on Jan. 23, 2010.
“Corey was delivering the ball to the right spots and delivering them in a way that the shooters could stay in rhythm,” said Reed. “Some of his assists were fairly simple, but yet the ball was delivered to the right person and it kept them in scoring rhythm.”
Muhlenberg’s Austin Curry got the scoring started with a three from the corner, but the Mountain Hawks answered with seven in a row beginning with a Mackey McKnight fastbreak layup off a feed from D’Orazio. D’Orazio followed with a three from the corner before a Knutson layup made it 7-3 with 16:07 left in the first half.
Lehigh used a 7-0 run to open its first double-digit lead of the game. The stretch began with a Knutson three-point play before Cvrkalj knocked down a pair of free throws then layup to make it 17-7 with 12:33 on the clock.
Cvrkalj ended a 4:25 scoreless drought with a three to make it 20-9 with 8:08 remaining. After a Goldsborough layup, Cvrkalj knocked down his second trey to make it 25-9 with 3:50 to go in the first half. The Mules ended a 7:26 scoreless drought as a Kevin Hargrove layup made it 28-11 with 4:50 on the clock.
A Baltimore dunk with 3:33 to play gave Lehigh its first 20-point lead at 32-11.
Greiner scored eight straight Lehigh points to help the Mountain Hawks open a 40-17 advantage. D’Orazio added a late first-half layup to make it 42-17 following 20 minutes of play.
Greiner scored a team-leading 11 points in the first half while Cvrkalj added 10, D’Orazio had eight and Knutson added seven. Schaefer dished eight first-half assists. After a slow start shooting, the Mountain Hawks finished at 53 percent in the first half (16-of-30) including 41 percent from long range (7-of-17). Muhlenberg shot 21 percent from the field (7-of-34) and long distance (3-of-14).
Lehigh opened a 28-point lead at 48-20 following a Knutson layup. Up 52-24, Muhlenberg responded with a mini run, scoring six of the next eight points to pull within 54-30 following a pair of Malique Killing free throws with 12:19 on the clock.
A Greiner three-point play ended a mini 2:41 scoreless drought, giving Lehigh a 57-30 advantage midway through the second half.
Schaefer knocked down a three with 9:02 on the clock to give Lehigh its first 30-point lead at 62-31. The Mountain Hawks continued to extend their lead from there, with their largest advantage coming at the final horn, as a Goldsborough jumper and Schaefer free throw rounded out the scoring.
Lehigh shot 48 percent from the field (29-of-61) and 35 percent from three-point range (10-of-29). Muhlenberg finished at 21 percent (12-of-58) and 26 percent from long distance (7-of-27). The Mountain Hawks won the battle of the boards, 46-36. Lehigh shared the ball well, assisting on 25 of its 29 baskets.
“This is a team that believes in themselves which is indicative of some of the assist numbers as a willingness to share the ball,” said Reed. “Those are really positive attributes.”
The Mountain Hawks will open Patriot League play on Saturday when they host Holy Cross at 2 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
“We will work to be ready and I think we’ll be ready,” said Reed. “There are some things we need to improve. As with any league game, the number of possessions we have are really important and doing a great job on the glass and not turning the ball over all become critically important.”
Like Lehigh Men’s Basketball on Facebook and follow on Twitter for exclusive content, team updates and more
Individual and season tickets are on sale and may be purchased on Lehighsports.com, over the phone (610-758-4263) or in-person at Stabler Arena, Monday-through-Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.