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Lehigh ends skid with win over DePaul

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ROSEMONT, Ill. — Lehigh finally found the missing piece as it snapped a season-opening four-game skid with an 86-74 victory over DePaul on Wednesday.

“It was our mental approach,” said guard Corey Schaefer, who scored a team-high 17 points. “We came in ready to play and be the aggressor tonight. We knew that was the difference.”

Center Tim Kempton added 16 and 11 rebounds as the Mountain Hawks withstood a late DePaul surge for the non-conference victory at Allstate Arena.

Lehigh (1-4) trailed only briefly, built a second-half lead of as many as 15 points and allowed the Blue Demons (2-1) to get no closer than seven in the late going.

“We’ve been trying to build off the process in our losses but tonight it felt really good to come together and get the win,” Schaefer said. “We were able to find some openings, play really unselfish and make some shots.”

Mountain Hawks guard Austin Price scored 14 points, and forward Justin Goldsborough added 10 for Lehigh. They shot a combined 9-for-9 from the field.

“We just couldn’t make plays and Billy (Garrett Jr.) clearly had a subpar day, couldn’t get anything going and had some big turnovers,” said Blue Demon coach Oliver Purnell.

“He usually makes big plays. It didn’t happen for him and it didn’t happen for us.”

DePaul forward Myke Henry had a game-high 24 points plus 10 rebounds. Garrett scored 15 points, forward Jamee Crockett had 13, and center Tommy Hamilton IV added 12 for the Blue Demons.

Lehigh used effective 3-point shooting to build an early lead and maintained it through the second half. The Mountain Hawks finished 9-for-18 from beyond the arc — as Schaefer was 3-for-5 — and 29-for-51 (56.9 percent) from the floor for the game.

Purnell knew an 0-for-13 effort in 3-point shooting in Lehigh’s last game wasn’t an accurate reflection.

“We had the shooters identified and we stared at four shooters in the first half and they shot right over us,” Purnell said.”(And) we’re doing 11 at the half.”

DePaul shot 22-for-60 (36.7 percent) from the field and 8-for-24 from 3-point range.

Lehigh was coming off a 10-point loss to Columbia that featured 0-for-13 shooting from 3-point range. But Purnell knew the Mountain Lions would be better.

The Mountain Hawks had their best opening 20 minutes to date on the way to a 41-30 halftime lead. Lehigh shot 14-for-25 (56 percent) in the first half, getting 11 points from Schaefer and 10 from Kempton.

Lehigh hit seven of 10 3-point shots before the break, while DePaul managed just two of 12.

Henry scored 15 first-half points for the Blue Demons, who shot 10-of-33 (30.3 percent) from the field before halftime.

The Mountain Hawks jumped to a quick 8-2 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers from guard Miles Simelton and forward Jesse Chuku. Lehigh led 23-9 near the midpoint of the half.

NOTES: Wednesday’s game marked a homecoming and first start for G Miles Simelton, a high school all-state player from suburban Oswego, Ill. … Three of the Mountain Hawks’ losses were against teams coming off 20-win seasons. … Lehigh planned to stay overnight in Chicago and resume play Sunday at home against Penn State Mont Alto. … DePaul entered Wednesday’s first-ever meeting with Lehigh with a 6-4 all-time mark against Patriot League teams. … DePaul opened a stretch of five games in 12 days that will include a Sunday date with Stanford at Allstate Arena.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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