BETHLEHEM, Pa. (12/1/18) – Ty Cockfield II had a season-high 30 points, but Lehigh defeated the Arkansas State men’s basketball team 82-70 Saturday afternoon at Stabler Arena.
Cockfield led all scorers with his 30 points, his third career outing with 30 or more points and it marks his fifth time this year with 20 or more scored. Salif Boudie had a career high 11 rebounds while Tristin Walley snagged 10 rebounds. Kyle Leufroy led Lehigh with 20 points, one of three players in double figures for the hosts.
“The problem tonight was we came out playing really well, up 22-9,” said A-State head coach Mike Balado. “We talked about four areas in pregame today and those were transition defense, containing the dribble, guarding the three and obviously rebounding. We got the rebounding part and I thought we did a good job early on of containing the bounce, but as the game went on, they started pushing the ball. They scored in transition and they shot 56 percent from three. You can’t beat this team when they shoot like that, because their picked to win their league for a reason. We knew it was going to be a hard game, but I was proud of the way our guys fought today.”
Lehigh (5-2), the Patriot League preseason favorite, held A-State (2-5) to 30.7 percent shooting (23-75) while shooting 54.4 percent (31-57). The Mountain Hawks were 6-of-9 (.667) from 3-point range in the first half, but were 3-of-7 (.429) in the second half to finish 9-of-16 (.563) for the afternoon. A-State struggled to 34.5 percent (10-29) beyond the arc. A-State shot 70 percent (14-20) at the charity stripe while Lehigh finished at 78.6 percent (11-14).
The Red Wolves finished with a 48-35 edge on the glass, spurred by a 25-5 advantage on the offensive glass. A-State managed a 12-2 advantage in second chance points, but was outscored in the paint 34-22.
After a 27-3 run saw Lehigh lead 40-31 by halftime, A-State struggled to recover. The Red Wolves cut the deficit to five points twice early in the second period, but Lehigh answered to regain the double-digit lead. Lehigh led 56-43 with 12:41 to play and A-State used an 11-3 run to trail by five, 59-54, with 9:50 remaining. The Mountain Hawks once again extended their lead to double-figures and ran out the clock before A-State could mount a comeback.
The first half was full of runs, with Lehigh having the bigger run to control the scoreboard at the break. A-State went on a 14-0 run to lead 22-9 with 11:14 to play in the half. The Mountain Hawks shut down the Red Wolves for the next six minutes and a 16-0 run saw Lehigh lead 25-22 with 5:19 on the first period clock.
Cockfield drained a 3-pointer to end the Red Wolves drought, but Lehigh kept momentum and extended the run to 27-3 over an eight-plus minute stretch to lead 36-25 at 2:33 on the clock. Cockfield added another 3-pointer and a jumper to cut the deficit to 36-30, but Lehigh scored the next five points to lead 41-30 at the half.
“I’m hoping our fans come out and continue to support our team,” Balado said. “This team is playing extremely hard and it’s difficult when you are away from home for so long. We’d love to come back to a good crowd and have our fans cheering us on and willing us to a win. This team is going to continue to get better and there are a lot of positive ahead for this group.”
A-State returns to First National Bank Arena to host Evansville on Tuesday with tipoff at 7:00 p.m. For the latest on A-State men’s basketball, follow the Red Wolves on Twitter @AStateMB, at Facebook.com/AStateMB and on Instagram at ‘AStateMB’.