Vlad Moldoveanu scored a game-high 24 points but it was not enough as the American University men's basketball team fell to Lehigh on Saturday afternoon in Bender Arena, 77-65. Joe Hill added a career-best 12 points while making his first career start.
American (7-16, 4-4) grabbed a 7-2 lead to open the game following a three-point play from Moldoveanu. Lehigh (15-8, 6-2) was able to cut its deficit to one, 7-6, with back-to-back buckets before an 8-3 Eagles run made it a six-point game, 15-9. The Mountain Hawks, however, answered back with a 10-2 spurt and took their first lead of the game, 19-17, on a Gabe Knutson jumper with 7:31 to play.
The Eagles responded with their own 10-2 run and with 3:36 remaining found themselves on top, 27-21. A Moldoveanu three-pointer and jumper helped to spark the run and Daniel Munoz capped it off with his own three. American's lead did not stand though as Lehigh scored the final nine points of the half and took a 30-27 lead into the intermission.
Moldoveanu had 16 points at the break on 6-of-10 shooting. He was 3-of-4 from behind the arc and added three rebounds. Munoz tallied five points in the frame with two assists while Simon McCormack notched four points and three assists. As a team, the eagles shot 44.0 percent against Lehigh's 38.7 percent but seven offensive rebounds helped the Mountain Hawks to their advantage.
McCormack and Stephen Lumpkins scored the first two baskets of the second half to put American back in the lead, 31-30. The lead was short lived though as Lehigh used a 16-5 stretch to open a double-digit advantage, 46-36. A pair of dunks by Zahir Carrington began the run and C.J. McCollum finished it with a three-pointer with 13:00 to go.
Moldoveanu scored five straight points to bring the Eagles to within five, 51-46, and a Riley Grafft jumper with 9:07 remaining made it a three-point game, 51-48. Marquis Hall hit a contested three on Lehigh's next trip down the court to push the score to 54-48 and just over a minute later added another trey to give the Mountain Hawks a 58-50 edge.
After a pair of Carrington free throws moved the score to 62-52, American pulled back to within five, 62-57, on a Lumpkins layup and Hill three-pointer. The run would end there, however, as Lehigh scored seven straight points to take a 72-60 lead with just 1:13 remaining. McCollum helped to ice the game with four free throws down the stretch as Lehigh took the game by the final score of 77-65.
Moldoveanu led all scorers with 24 points, marking the fifth straight game the junior has scored at least 20. He was 8-of-15 from the floor, 4-of-8 from three and added six rebounds and one block in 36 minutes. Hill, who made his first career start on Saturday, scored a career-best 12 points with all 12 coming in the second half. He also notched a career-high four rebounds, three assists and two steals in a career-high 33 minutes. Munoz finished his afternoon with seven points and five assists while Matthew Wilson tallied a career-best eight points on 3-of-3 shooting with three assists.
The Eagles shot a combined 45.5 percent from the field but went just 9-of-34 from beyond the arc. Lehigh, meanwhile, shot 44.6 percent and added 21 points at the free-throw line against just six for American. The Mountain Hawks also held a 35-30 margin on the glass. They were led by Carrington who scored 20 points, McCollum who notched 19 and Hall who added 18.
American will return to action this Thursday, February 11, against Bucknell live on CBS College Sports. Tipoff from Bender Arena is set for 7:00 p.m. Tickets to Thursday's game are still available and can be purchased by clicking here.