Vlad Moldoveanu turned in his first career double-double but it was not enough as the American University men's basketball team dropped its Patriot League opener at Lehigh on Saturday, 78-67. The Eagles mounted an inspired second-half comeback, turning an 18-point halftime deficit into a five-point deficit with 1:47 to play, but could not overcome the Mountain Hawks down the stretch.
American (3-13, 0-1) was unable to find an offensive rhythm early and fell behind 14-4 through the first six-plus minutes. Three different Mountain Hawks tallied four points during the stretch while Moldoveanu was the only Eagle to find the basket. American began to operate more efficiently midway through the frame but struggled to slow down Lehigh's transition offense and trailed by 17 points with 5:55 to play, 29-12.
The Eagles pulled to within 13, 31-18, following a Stephen Lumpkins putback and a pair of Simon McCormack free throws but Lehigh (10-6, 1-0) closed out the half on a 7-2 run and took a 40-22 advantage into the intermission.
Moldoveanu and Lumpkins each tallied eight points in the frame to lead the Eagles. Moldoveanu also led the charge on the glass with seven rebounds while Nick Hendra added four. American shot just 25.8 percent as a team in the half and was 0-of-7 from beyond the arc. Lehigh, meanwhile, made 59.3 percent of its attempts and held a 30-14 advantage in points in the paint.
Moldoveanu scored five points during a 12-5 run as the Eagles cut their deficit to 12, 49-37, with 13:32 remaining. Hendra began the stretch with a deep three from the top of the key and was followed by a Moldoveanu layup to move the score to 44-30. Steve Luptak connected on a 15-foot jumper from the left elbow before Moldoveanu capped off the run with a 15-foot jumper of his own.
Lehigh regained a 15 point advantage off a Gabe Knutson layup but two Daniel Munoz runners helped to bring the margin back to 12, 57-45. Hendra brought the Eagles to within 11 with his second three of the half, 59-48. Moldoveanu scored seven straight points for American after that point to bring the score to within seven, 62-55, with 5:15 on the clock.
The Mountain Hawks responded to American's run with a 5-0 stretch to push the score to 67-55. Showing resiliency, the Eagles bounced right back with seven straight to pull to within five, 67-62, with 1:47 to play. Hendra hit a three-pointer from the left side to open the run and was followed by layups from Munoz and Lumpkins. Lehigh, however, scored the game's next six points to make it a 73-62 game and all but seal the victory.
Moldoveanu finished the night with with his first career double-double, scoring a game-high 24 points and pulling down a season-high 11 rebounds. Lumpkins added 14 points, six boards and two blocks while Hendra notched 13 points, six assists and three assists.
Lehigh outshot American 50.0 percent to 39.7 percent and held a 46-32 advantage in points in the paint by game's end. The Mountain Hawks also outrebounded the Eagles, 40-36. Lehigh was led by Zahir Carrington who turned in a double-double effort with 18 points and 12 rebounds and Marquis Hall who scored 17 points with six assists.
American will conclude its current six-game roadtrip on Wednesday, January 13, at Bucknell. Tipoff from Sojka Pavilion is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.