Vlad Moldoveanu and Stephen Lumpkins combined for 50 points and 21 rebounds as the American University men's basketball team defeated Lafayette Saturday afternoon in Bender Arena, 78-60. The victory, coupled with Navy's 85-73 loss at Colgate, clinches the fourth seed for American in the upcoming Patriot League Tournament and home-court advantage in the quarterfinals. The Eagles will now open the conference tournament hosting Navy on Wednesday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Moldoveanu scored each of American's (10-19, 7-7) first eight points as the Eagles jumped out to a 20-6 lead. With the score at 3-2, the junior made back-to-back layups and added a free throw to ignite a 17-4 run in which the Eagles made 6-of-8 attempts. Steve Luptak buried his first three-point attempt to extend the lead to 11-4 before consecutive layups by Simon McCormack gave American the 20-6 advantage with 11:14 remaining.
Lafayette (17-12, 8-6) pulled back to within eight, 20-12, on a Jared Mintz jumper but a 6-0 stretch by the Eagles moved the score to 26-12. A Moldoveanu three with 4:54 to play gave American a 16 point lead, 36-20, before a Lumpkins layup off a Moldoveanu feed put the margin at 18, 42-24, with just 23 seconds on the clock. Moldoveanu added another trey at the buzzer, giving the Eagles a 45-26 advantage at the break.
Moldoveanu scored 18 points in the first half, shooting 5-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-5 from three. He was also a perfect 5-of-5 from the line and notched five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Lumpkins added nine points, six boards and two assists in the frame with McCormack, Luptak and Nick Hendra each chipping in six points. The Eagles shot a combined 61.5 percent in the first half and connected on 7-of-11 three-pointers while holding Lafayette to just 8-of-24 shooting. American also held an 18-10 advantage on the glass, an 18-2 advantage in points in the paint and a 16-3 margin in points off turnovers.
A Lumpkins dunk on American's first possession of the second half pushed the score to 47-26 before a 5-0 spurt by the Leopards made it a 16 point game, 47-31. The Eagles responded with a pair of Moldoveanu free throws and a Lumpkins lay-in to regain a 20-point margin, 51-31. A Lumpkins three-point play with 11:50 remaining gave American its largest lead of the day, 61-38.
The Leopards used a 9-1 run to pull to within 11, 65-54, but could not get any closer. Matthew Wilson moved the score to 70-56 with the first of two free throws and Lumpkins gave American a 16 point edge with 3:06 to play, 74-58. A Lumpkins dunk with 1:54 on the clock pushed the lead to 76-58 before the final horn sounded the Eagles victory, 78-60.
Moldoveanu finished the afternoon with a game-high 26 points, connecting on 6-of-11 attempts from the floor and 11-of-13 from the line. He also grabbed nine rebounds, dished out a career-high six assists and tallied two steals. Lumpkins, meanwhile, notched a career-high 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting with 12 rebounds to record his seventh double-double of the season.
The Eagles shot a season-high 57.4 percent for the game, hitting 27-of-47 attempts from the field and 7-of-13 from three. American held a 31-27 advantage on the glass, a 34-6 advantage in the paint and outscored the Leopards 22-8 off turnovers. The win is American's 12th straight over Lafayette.
Ryan Willen scored a team-high 17 points for the Leopards while Jeff Kari added 11.
American's win, coupled with Navy's 85-73 loss at Colgate, locks the two in a tie for fourth place in the Patriot League standings at 7-7. The Eagles, however, own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Navy after defeating the Midshipmen twice in the regular season and will enter the Patriot League Tournament as the fourth seed with home-court advantage in the quarterfinals round. American will now host Navy in the Patriot League Tournament Quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Bender Arena. Tickets to the game are on-sale now and are priced at $12 for adults and $6 for youth under 17. All American University students with a valid AU ID will be admitted free. To purchase your tickets now, click here.