American fell to Lehigh 69-63 Sunday afternoon, dropping the Eagles to 4-11, 1-3 in the Patriot League. Here are our five key plays/sequences from the game.
1. Early foul trouble for American's bigs
It didn't take long for the Eagles to dig a deep hole of foul trouble. Freshman Mark Gasperini picked up two quick fouls, relegating him to the bench for most of the half (he'd repeat the exercise in the second half and play just 10 minutes). To make matters worse, Matt Cimino was whistled for a pair of fouls — including a questionable one off the ball — by the 15:30 mark.
2. American stays close thanks to 3-point shooting
The Eagles were up against it all half due to foul trouble, but they stayed within striking distance thanks to good ball movement and shooting 4-10 from 3 — with each triple by a different player.
3. Kempton, Kempton, Kempton
The Patriot League's two-time player of the year took over in the second half, scoring 15 straight points to keep American at bay. The Eagles actually didn't defend him that poorly, besides having some rough matchups because of the fouls (6-4 Charlie Jones isn't ideal). As you can tell, among Kempton's field goals were a ridiculous falling runner in the lane, a spin move into a jumper off the glass, and a 20-footer. Guy is good.
4. Sa'eed keeps AU in it
How did American stay close in the second half, getting within three points? Freshman Sa'eed Nelson played a huge role. Sa'eed outplayed Kahron Ross, challenged Kempton at the rim on multiple drives, and made one big shot after another. It just wasn't enough because of Kempton.
5. Price ices it for Lehigh
Kempton was so good in the second half, you almost forgot about Lehigh's other offensive weapons. Until the end. Austin Price put the nail in American's coffin with first a strong drive and finish over Charlie Jones. And then, after a timeout, Price came around a screen, beat Delante Jones — who needs to move his feet better — and stuck a jumper for a seven-point lead late.
6. Bonus: Sam Iorio in the house
As a reminder of American's extremely bright future, 2017 commit Sam Iorio was in the house.