American University men's basketball made history on Wednesday night in Bethlehem, Pa., winning at Lehigh, 65-63, to improve to 5-0 in Patriot League play this season. The five-game undefeated streak to open the league slate is a program record.
The deck appeared stacked against American as the Eagles were playing against a team they had not beaten in its three previous tries and had lost to in seven of its past 10 matchups. It was also AU's 12th road game in 16 contests this season.
In the end, it was the offensive execution of the Eagles which made the difference, hitting big 3-pointers down the stretch to defeat Lehigh inside Stabler Arena for the first time in over two years. American is now undefeated in its past six games, its longest streak since an eight-game span early in the 2011-12 season.
"Our guys responded well. We were scoring early, but had to adjust to Lehigh's defense," said head coach Mike Brennan. "The Patriot League is always brutal. We needed to be resilient and compete in some difficult situations and we did that tonight."
Junior shooting guard John Schoof was locked in against the Mountain Hawks, hitting each of his first five shots, finishing with a season-high 23 points with five 3-pointers on 9-of-14 shooting.
Fellow swingman Jesse Reed followed Schoof's lead knocking down 6-of-12 from the field for 15 points with 3 treys, including back-to-back triples with less than two minutes left in the game, which broke a 57-all tie.
Despite the six-point swing in the final minutes, Lehigh answered with a 3-pointer of their own and fouled senior center Tony Wroblicky who shoots just under 60 percent from the line this season. The fourth-year big man calmly knocked down both shots of the one-and-one situation however, icing the game for AU.
After struggling with foul trouble in its last game at Colgate, American found its groove early, jumping out to a 30-16 lead in the first half after a Schoof 3-pointer. Lehigh battled back however with a 10-1 run, closing to within five at the break.
It was a back and forth second half as the lead changed hands four times. Lehigh senior Mackey McKnight scored 14 of his team-high 23 points in the second stanza, as the point guard did it all for the Mountain Hawks, almost single-handedly leading his team all the way back, narrowly missing a triple double with 10 assists and eight rebounds.
In the end it was AU's team defense in addition to offensive adjustments against the Lehigh zone defense, which the Mountain Hawks switched to late in the first half which kept American atop the Patriot League standings.
Wroblicky joined Schoof and Reed in double-digit scoring with 14 points, notching a double-double with 12 boards, six coming on the offensive side. The Harbor City, Calif., native also filled the stat sheet with three assists, two blocks and two steals in just under 40 minutes.
Junior point guard Darius Gardner had his hands full with McKnight, but set a career high with 11 assists while grabbing six rebounds, playing all 40 minutes for the fourth time in five games.
AU returns to Bender Arena this Saturday, January 18 at 2 p.m. The Eagles tip-off against Lafayette, live on Comcast SportsNet DC, in the team's Fourth Annual "Bender White Out" game.
The first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive a free commemorative AU Eagles White Out t-shirt, courtesy of Comcast SportsNet DC and AU Athletics. Click here for tickets, as a limited number of premium location sideline reserved chairback seats still remain. Fans can also call (202) 885-TIXX Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.