Moun­tain Hawks’ de­fense stays strong

De­spite los­ing the re­bound bat­tle, Le­high comes from be­hind to col­lect fifth win.

The Morning Call (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Stephen Miller

Arkansas State kept chas­ing down its misses, forc­ing Le­high to de­fend for ex­tended stretches Satur­day af­ter­noon.

The Moun­tain Hawks dug in pos­ses­sion af­ter pos­ses­sion to main­tain their early-sea­son com­mit­ment to de­fense.

Le­high played its best dur­ing an 11-minute stretch to end the first half. It lim­ited the Red Wolves to eight points, turn­ing a 13-point deficit into an 11-point lead.

The Moun­tain Hawks stayed ahead the rest of the way, col­lect­ing an 82-70 non­league men’s bas­ket­ball win at Stabler Arena in Beth­le­hem. The vic­tory moved them to 5-2 over­all and 3-0 on their home floor, where they won’t play again for three weeks.

“Over­all, I think we did well de­fen­sively,” Le­high se­nior guard Kyle Leufroy said. “Early on, we just have lapses. It’s just try­ing to fig­ure that out and cut those out as much as pos­si­ble re­ally through­out the whole game.

“We’re try­ing as best as pos­si­ble to get to a point where we can put a good, strong 40 min­utes to­gether.”

Le­high can look to the back­boards as one area where it needs to per­form bet­ter af­ter Satur­day. The Moun­tain Hawks al­lowed Arkansas State (2-5) to grab 25 of­fen­sive re­bounds and fin­ish with a plus-13 re­bound­ing mar­gin.

Le­high re­fused to al­low the Red Wolves’ ex­tra pos­ses­sions to sap its de­fen­sive en­ergy. Pat An­dree scored five quick points and had a steal and an as­sist to jump-start a 27-3 run that gave the Moun­tain Hawks com­mand late in the first half.

An­dree fin­ished with 14 points, two re­bounds and three as­sists. He left the game af­ter tweak­ing his knee while con­vert­ing a sec­ond-half run­ner. An­dree did not re­turn, but coach Brett Reed said Le­high’s ath­letic train­ing staff deemed the in­jury mi­nor.

Leufroy (20 points, two as­sists, two steals) and Lance Te­jada (12 points, seven as­sists) also scored in dou­ble fig­ures for Le­high. While the Moun­tain Hawks shot well (54.4 per­cent), their de­fense car­ried the day. They held Arkansas State to 30.7 per­cent shoot­ing from the field.

“I loved that our team could show great re­siliency and in­ter­nal tough­ness to come back,” Reed said. “Not only did we do it by knock­ing down shots, but we did it by get­ting de­fen­sive stops.

“When you have com­bustible of­fense — and we were scor­ing the bas­ket­ball — and then you’re re­ally get­ting stops, that changes the com­plex­ion of the game.”

Cook­ing at home

Leufroy con­tin­ued his blis­ter­ing early-sea­son shoot­ing at Stabler Arena. He drilled 7-of-9 shots from the field, in­clud­ing all three of his 3-point at­tempts.

Leufroy’s three triples came in a burst at the end of a 27-3 run that ended with Le­high lead­ing 36-25. He has shot 60 per­cent over­all (18-for-30) and 57.1 per­cent from 3-point range (8-for-14) in Le­high’s three home games.

“His con­fi­dence is up,” Te­jada said. “He’s let­ting the game come to him more. Last year, at cer­tain times, he felt pres­sured to make plays. He was real anx­ious to make some­thing hap­pen.

“This year, he’s just a year more ma­ture. When you’re play­ing good, your con­fi­dence is go­ing to be at an all-time high.”

Look­ing ahead

Le­high will play its fi­nal two games be­fore its exam break on the road. The Moun­tain Hawks head to Yale on Wed­nes­day and Mount St. Mary’s on Satur­day.

Le­high went 2-2 on the road in Novem­ber.

[email protected] Twit­ter @mcal­l_s­miller 610-820-6750

HUNTER JULIUS/LE­HIGH ATH­LET­ICS

Le­high’s Kyle Leufroy pushed hard to the hoop for two of his 20 points Satur­day in an 82-70 win over Arkansas State.

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