Courtesy of LehighSports.com
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Five Mountain Hawks scored double-figure points as the Lehigh men’s basketball team jumped out to a 47-31 halftime lead, on the way to an 83-76 victory over American on Wednesday evening to improve to 7-0 in Stabler Arena this season. The Mountain Hawks opened a 19-point lead early in the second half, the Eagles got as close as two, but Lehigh responded down the stretch to improve to 11-5 on the season and 4-1 in Patriot League play. The Mountain Hawks currently stand tied for first place in the league standings with Bucknell, heading into a Saturday evening showdown against the Bison. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in Stabler.
Junior Pat Andree, sophomore James Karnik and senior Lance Tejada each scored 14 points to lead the offense. Karnik added 11 rebounds for his sixth-career double-double and second in as many home games. Junior Jordan Cohen had 12 points and seven assists, including a huge shot with 1:02 remaining to put Lehigh up by six. Freshman Jeameril Wilson scored a career-high 11 points (all in the first half) while grabbing a career-high seven rebounds. It marked the first time since Nov. 16 vs. Princeton that five Mountain Hawks scored in double figures.
“I thought our first half was terrific,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “We were locked in, we didn’t give them a lot of easy opportunities and our defense held pretty strong. We ended up having 15 assists on 20 field goals. There were a lot of points in the paint and a lot of quick movements. I thought Jeameril Wilson gave us a huge spark. Ed Porter was really effective in his minutes and gave us great energy.
“We thought we had a formula going into the half,” Reed continued. “Let’s continue to play that defense, let’s continue to stay in front and not give up any layups and let’s continue to work the basketball. Early in the second half, we gave up three consecutive layups early in possessions and we shot three contested shots, versus sticking to the formula that we ultimately needed.”
A tight beginning saw the Mountain Hawks leading 13-11 just over five minutes in. With Lehigh leading 21-17 midway through the first half, the Mountain Hawks staged a 9-0 run, beginning with a layup from Wilson and ending with a Tejada three-pointer and Porter layup, to give the Mountain Hawks a 30-17 edge with 7:49 on the clock. Porter’s layup came on his first offensive possession of the game, and season.
An Eagles’ trey pulled them within nine at 32-23, but the Mountain Hawks held a 15-8 edge over the final 6:10. Five straight Lehigh points in the span of 31 seconds, behind a Karnik dunk and Wilson three-pointer, gave Lehigh a 43-27 advantage with 2:35 remaining. A Leufroy jumper in the final seconds of the half gave Lehigh a 47-31 edge after 20 minutes of play.
Just 28 seconds into the second half, a Tejada trey gave Lehigh a 50-31 advantage. American responded, however, by staging a 21-6 run over the next 7:49, to pull within 56-52 with 11:43 remaining. Lehigh rebuilt its lead back to 10 following an Andree three, giving the Mountain Hawks a 68-58 lead with 7:21 left in the second half, but the Eagles had one more run in them.
American went on to stage a 10-2 run as a Stacy Beckton Jr. three-pointer pulled the Eagles within 70-68 with 2:50 remaining. But on consecutive possessions, Tejada and Cohen hit big shot to make the margin six, on the way to the 83-76 final and Lehigh’s eighth straight win over American.
For the game, the Mountain Hawks shot 57.4 percent from the field (31-of-54) and 51.7 percent from three (5-of-14). American finished at 43.3 percent (29-of-67) and 27.3 percent from distance (6-of-22). The Mountain Hawks held a 36-32 edge in rebounds.
The Mountain Hawks are set to return home on Saturday to host Bucknell at 7 p.m. in the second game of a doubleheader. The Lehigh women will host American at 4:30. Tickets are available online and may be purchased here.