Bethlehem, Pa. – American University ran into one of the hottest team in the Patriot League on Thursday night at Stabler Arena, as Lehigh improved to 7-1 in since its loss to the Eagles last month, holding off AU's late comeback attempt, 65-58. The Mountain Hawks used suffocating defense to keep AU off balance in the first half and weathered a late Eagle run to grab sole possession of third in the conference standings.
American trailed by as much as 17 in the second, but slowly fought back into the game, closing the gap to single digits with three minutes to go on free throws by Jesse Reed. The Eagles got as close as six but were forced to foul in the closing minutes and Lehigh went 10-of-10 from the charity stripe to quell the AU comeback attempt.
Senior John Schoof scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting with three 3-pointers, but missed the final eight minutes of the first half with two fouls.
Lehigh forward Tim Kempton answered for the Mountain Hawks with 20 points, leading three players in double-digit scoring including Austin Price who scored 15 points with six rebounds and three treys.
Lehigh made the most of its opportunities offensively, converting 20-of-44 (45%) from the field, while assisting on 16 makes. The Mountain Hawks also protected the rim with seven blocks while registering six steals and 13 American turnovers.
The AU offense came out hot in the game, knocking down its first four 3-pointers including Schoof's 200th career triple. American led 16-8 after Pee Wee Gardner's second 3-pointer in the first five minutes, but it was all Lehigh after that.
The Mountain Hawks used a 10-1 run to take the lead and closed the half on a 23-3 streak to take a 33-19 advantage in to the break.
Lehigh's defense surged in that span, holding AU to 1-of-17 shooting while forcing seven turnovers. American was held to just three points and one field goal in the final 15:45 of the initial stanza.
The Eagles trailed by 13 with 4:14 to play but a 7-0 run by AU made it a 55-49 game with just 1:18 left to play. Lehigh's foul shooting made the difference however as the Mountain Hawks hit 20-of-23 form the line for the game.
American will look to get back on the winning track with some home cooking. After a stretch of six road games in its last five and an astonishing 17 of 24 total games away from Bender Arena, the Eagles return home on Saturday against Lafayette.