WASHINGTON – The American University men's basketball team stayed perfect at Bender Arena this season, defeating Lehigh in thrilling fashion on Wednesday night. In a back-and-forth battle, it was senior guard Pee Wee Gardner who came up clutch, netting the tie-breaking, game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to down the Mountain Hawks, 62-59.
The Patriot League classic featured 12 lead changes and nine ties. Both teams shot over 43-percent from the field but the final two shots for each team were game changers.
Lehigh's Tim Kempton hit a jump hook with nine seconds left to tie the game at 59 prior to Pee Wee's heroics. Gardner took the inbounds and weaved his way to the top of the key, pulling up from 3-point range, hitting nothing but net for AU's third Patriot League win of the year.
"It was a typical league game and we faced off against one of the top big men in the league. We stuck with our game plan and we have Pee Wee, who came up big tonight," said head coach Mike Brennan. "Kempton had a good game, but we did a good job of limiting their other guys. It's great for us to continue winning at home."
American is now 5-0 at Bender Arena, remaining the lone Patriot League school which is perfect on its home floor.
Gardner did the heaving lifting late for the Eagles, but it was junior Jesse Reed that kept American neck-and-neck with Lehigh throughout. Reed scored a season-high 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-7 from downtown.
The Mountain Hawks used its size advantage down low as they outrebounded American, 37-24, earning a 32-22 advantage in points in the paint, but the Eagles made up the difference from beyond the arc.
AU, led by the marksmanship of Reed, hit nine 3-pointers in the game to pull out the victory. The Eagles also made the most of 14 Mountain Hawk turnovers, turning them into 13 points.
Kempton led Lehigh with 24 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Austin Price added 13 points and Brandon Alston chipped in 10, but no other Mountain Hawk scored more than four.
Sophomore Charlie Jones was second on the Eagles with 11 points, going 7-of-7 from the free throw line.
American now hits the road for two tough conference games beginning with Lafayette this Saturday at 2 p.m., before playing at Boston U. on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m.
The Eagles are back in action at home on Monday, Jan. 26th at 7 p.m. against Army for their annual PHIL BENDER, pack-the-place game. The matchup will be will nationally televised on CBS Sports Network. Tickets start at $7.50 per seat and a limited amount of premium location sideline reserved chairback seats remain. Secure yours today at AUeagles.com by clicking here or by calling (202) 885-TIXX. AU basketball games are free for American University students with a valid AU ID.