After its first two Patriot League losses of the season last week, American University men's basketball got back on track Wednesday night at Bender Arena, downing Lehigh by twenty points to remain atop the conference standings. The Eagles limited the Mountain Hawks to a season-low in points for their opponents in the 66-44 victory.
American (15-9, 11-2) trailed early in the contest, 18-12, but a used a 15-2 run to close out the half, starting over a 13-minute span in which the Eagles outscored Lehigh (13-13, 6-7 PL) 32-7.
"I thought it was a good bounce back game for us after a tough week in which we lost our first two conference games of the year," said head coach Mike Brennan. "Our defensive intensity was much better tonight which led to some transition baskets for us. We need to build off this performance as we head into the final five games of the Patriot League regular season."
American's defensive effort showed in the box score as the Eagles posted a season-high 14 steals in the contest, which helped AU to 24 points off turnovers.
Junior point guard Darius "Pee Wee" Gardner keyed AU's attack, both offensively and defensively. Gardner scored a team-high 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting while swiping a game-high five steals.
American's point guard was aided by four other Eagles in double-figure scoring. All five starters and seven players total appeared in the score sheet.
AU got up-and-down on the Mountain Hawks as its defense help spark its fast-break offense. The Eagles scoring 15 points in up-tempo, transition opportunities; 11 more than Lehigh.
Senior center Tony Wroblicky posted his second-straight double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. The big man also swatted two shots in the game, becoming American University all-time leader in blocks with 140.
Wroblicky's play down low helped AU to control the paint, outscoring Lehigh 32-20 in the post.
After a difficult opening 10 minutes to the game, American reversed its fortune to end the frame before owning the second half. AU shot 57.9 percent (11-of-19) from the field and 92.3 percent (12-of-13) from the free throw line in the second half while holding Lehigh to only 6-of-19 shots from the field.
After nearly reaching a triple double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in their first matchup at Lehigh, Mountain Hawks guard Mackey McKnight was hounded by constant AU pressure and finished the game just 1-of-5 from the field with six points, six assists, six turnovers and a lone rebound.
American hits the road on Saturday, Feb. 15, when the Eagles head North to take on Lafayette.