RACHEL DEVOR / THE EAGLE
Despite being saddled with foul trouble for a good portion of the second half, Vlad Moldoveanu netted 18 points in the game’s final six minutes as the Eagles defeated the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks 65-58 on Wednesday night at Bender Arena.
“I think I just came in and did my job,” said Moldoveanu, who totaled a game-high 31 points on the night.
Stephen Lumpkins and Nick Hendra assisted Moldoveanu in giving AU its first 3-0 start since the 1982-83 season. Lumpkins added 12 points and six rebounds, while Hendra posted nine points and led the team with six assists. Guard Kevin White paced the Hawks with 19 points on 7-15 shooting from the field.
Despite the team notching its third straight win to open the season, AU Head Coach Jeff Jones was not pleased with his squad’s performance.
“We’ve got to get back to the drawing board,” Jones said. “If we want to be the kind of team we all said we want to be, some things have to change.”
AU held a 5-4 advantage after the first media timeout, and one of Moldoveanu’s six three-pointers of the night put AU ahead 10-7 early on.
After a Nick Hendra layup put the Eagles in front 14-9 with 10:25 remaining in the opening stanza, AU struggled to find an offensive rhythm. The team did not score a point over the next five minutes, as UMES grabbed a slim first half lead.
“We didn’t start the game as well as we wanted to, and we really have to change that,” said Moldoveanu.
Moldoveanu scored the team’s next five points to end the drought, and a layup by Lumpkins put AU ahead 21-16 with just over two minutes to go until halftime. Following a jumper from UMES forward Tyler Hines, Hendra beat the halftime buzzer with a triple to send his team to the locker room with a 23-18 lead.
The 23 points were AU’s lowest first half total of the young season, as the team shot 31 percent from the field and went 3-12 from long range in the opening 20 minutes. The Eagles were able to capitalize off turnovers though, turning eight Hawks miscues into 14 points.
Six straight points to open the second half by Lumpkins put AU ahead 29-20, as the Eagles threatened to break the game open. Even after Moldoveanu went to the bench with his third foul early in the second half, a jumper from Troy Brewer – who struggled shooting the ball that night – gave AU its largest lead of the contest at 38-27 with 14:37 remaining.
UMES promptly answered with an 8-0 run capped by a Dishawn Bradshaw three-pointer to cut the deficit to three. But freshman center Tony Wroblicky made a tip-in and hook shot within nearly one minute of each other to extend AU’s lead to six.
“He put forth effort,” said Jones of Wroblicky. “He gave us a big lift. By virtue of his performance tonight, he’ll be out starting center on Saturday.”
But the Hawks wouldn’t quit, and a Bradshaw layup made it 45-43 AU with 7:12 to play. After two free throws from Tim Burns knotted the game at 45 apiece, Moldoveanu checked in and the Hawks’ chances checked out.
Moldoveanu nailed a jumper and hit three times from long range to give the Eagles a 56-50 advantage with 2:29 remaining. When the Hawks fought back to trail 60-58 with 1:15 to go, it was Moldoveanu who went 5-6 from the free throw line to preserve the 65-58 victory.
“It was a tough game for us,” said Moldoveanu. “We knew they were going to come at us hard; they were 0-2.”
AU will next play at Florida Atlantic on Saturday, Nov. 20. The Eagles will return to Bender Arena to take on the Columbia University Lions on Sunday, Nov. 28.