Game #9-333: Lehigh Mountain Hawks at American EaglesJanuary 16, 2013 7:30 pm
Coming into this year, expectations were high for the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Last year, they upset Bucknell on the road to win their second Patriot League championship, and followed it up with an upset over Duke in the NCAA Tournament. While their journey in a third round loss to Xavier, it was definitely a fun season, especially for those with ties to the university. Fast forward to this year, the Mountain Hawks were picked to contend, along with Bucknell, for the Patriot League Championship. The team was led by senior C.J. McCollum, who decided to come back to school rather than leave early for the NBA
draft. Then, came the shocker. In the next to last game before conference play against VCU, McCollum suffered an injury to his fifth metatarsal. The injury required surgery, and there is the strong possibility that McCollum will have played his last collegiate game.
But, the Mountain Hawks are not just about one player, even if he is the leading scorer in all of Division I. Basketball is a team game, and the rest of the players know that. The Mountain Hawks had already blown out Holy Cross in their first league game, which brought them to Bender Arena, for their second league game against the host American University
Eagles. A win would make Lehigh 2-0 in conference play. And they would do it all without their best player, who was nowhere to be found, not even on the bench.
The host Eagles were taking a step back after winning 23 games last year. They entered the game with a record of 6-11, and while they won their season opener at Colgate, they struggled with their non-conference schedule. Having never finished lower than 4th since joining the Patriot League in 2001, the Eagles would have some work to do to avoid that streak.
The crowd itself was as I remember for a weeknight game. A fair number of Lehigh fans either made the drive down from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, or were already in the area. The AU students, back from winter break, were there in full force, and were loud from the beginning.
Things started off as well as possible for the home team. Three straight superhoops gave them an early 9-4 lead, and the lead continued to build from there, to 23-9 midway through the first half. At that point, the student section was up on their feat, and it looked good for the Eagles. However, the Mountain Hawks stormed back, going on a 22-5 run to close out the half to take the lead 31-28, going into halftime. Going into the locker room, the Lehigh players were clearly pumped, while the American players, and fans had stunned looks on their faces.
Things remained close for most of the second half. A superhoop by Anthony D'Orazio, stretched the Mountain Hawk lead to six, and a shot by Gabe Knutson stretched the lead to eight. A credit to AU for getting him into foul trouble throughout the game, limiting him to only those points on the evening. However, the Eagles responded, tying the game again at 42. From there, the Mountain Hawks went on a 13-1 run, only to see American come back again to within three. But, this would be as close as it would get. Lehigh hit their free-throws down the stretch, and escaped with a 63-57 victory. It wasn't pretty, but a win's a win, and the Mountain Hawks will take it.
LEHIGH 63, at AMERICAN 57
LEHIGH 12-4 (2-0) -- J. Brown 6-10 6-10 18; M. McKnight 3-9 4-9 11; H. Greiner 10-13 0-0 22; B. Bailey 2-4 2-3 6; A. D'Orazio 2-5 0-0 5; G. Knutson 1-4 0-0 2; C. Schaefer 1-4 3-4 6; S. Cvrkalj 2-5 0-0 5; J. Goldsborough 2-4 0-0 4; C. Baltimore 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 24-51 9-16 63.
AMERICAN 6-11 (1-1) -- S. Lumpkins 4-10 2-4 10; J. Schoof 4-9 0-0 11; D. Munoz 5-12 1-1 13; J. Reed 1-3 0-0 2; B. Jolivette 3-8 0-0 7; T. Wroblicky 6-8 2-5 14; M. Bersch 0-3 0-0 0; M. Vasic 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-54 5-10 57.
Three-point goals: LEH 6-15 (B. Bailey 0-1; H. Greiner 2-3; A. D'orazio 1-3; M. McKnight 1-2; S. Cvrkalj 1-4; C. Schaefer 1-2), AMER 6-22 (M. Bersch 0-3; B. Jolivette 1-3; D. Munoz 2-6; J. Schoof 3-7; J. Reed 0-2; M. Vasic 0-1); Rebounds: LEH 25 (M. McKnight 6), AMER 37 (S. Lumpkins 17); Assists: LEH 9 (M. McKnight 5), AMER 18 (D. Munoz 7); Total Fouls -- LEH 12, AMER 18; Fouled Out: LEH-None; AMER-None.
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