Men’s basketball fizzles against Lehigh, losing 72-49
After an unexpected five game win streak, AU reverted back to the underperforming team they were early in the season against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in a game plagued by missed easy shots, long scoring droughts and flat defense. AU’s sixth game and third on the road in 11 days took a toll on the team, as the Eagles (7-16, 5-7 PL) played out-of-sync from the start. Lehigh raced out to a 10-0 advantage in the first four minutes, and the Eagles never recovered, eventually losing 72-49.
Head coach Mike Brennan, at a double digit disadvantage for a majority of the game, played his bench players and elected to rest his starters. Senior guard Jesse Reed played 25 minutes and senior forward Marko Vasic played 19 minutes, while freshman guards Delante Jones and James Washington played 30 and 20 minutes respectively. Coming off the bench in the place of Reed, Vasic and senior center Paris Maragkos was freshman guard Lonnie Rivera, playing a season high of 27 minutes, freshman center Andrija Matic and junior guard Charlie Jones. Sophomores Alex Paquin and Gabe Brown also played rare minutes.
The Eagles didn’t score their first points until the six minute mark of the first half off a jump shot from Delante Jones. The freshman guard then went on to score nine of the team's first 12 points. With nine minutes to in the first half, AU strung together three three-pointers and a pair of free throws to bring the game within seven points. The Mountain Hawks, however, would not let up, shooting 73 percent from the field with less than eight minutes less in the first half.
Lehigh’s high-tempo offense proved unguardable for AU. Eight different players scored in the first half for a balanced Mountain Hawk team.
Lehigh’s quick possessions also forced the Eagles to speed up their own offensive tempo, hoisting an uncharacteristic 27 shots in the first half. The rapid pace unsettled AU offensively, as the Eagles frequently took off-balanced shots resulting in air-balls and far misses. The Eagles were beat on the board, being out-rebounded 17-to-10 in the first twenty minutes of play.
AU entered halftime down ten points, 38-28 and only shooting 37 percent while the Mountain Hawks shot 56.7 percent.
The second half quickly got away from the Eagles, as they surrendered 14 unanswered points in six minutes. With 10 minutes left in the game, AU dug itself into a 30 point hole, at which point Brennan pulled out the last of his starters, Jones and Washington.
In the second half the Eagles shot a dreadful 25.9 percent, making only seven shots from the floor in twenty minutes.
Matic scored a team-high 14 points off the bench, including 11 points in the second half, going 5-for-9 and 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Week, Jones continued to be an offensive presence for the Eagles, scoring 12 points (4-for-12). Rivera, seeing the floor for a majority of the game, scored four points and pulled down five rebounds.
With the results of other Patriot League games on Saturday, the Eagles remain in seventh place and continue their road swing with a game against Boston on Wednesday.