After two straight road wins to open the City University of New York Athletic Conference season, the Lehman Lighting returned home last Friday night looking to notch its first conference home win of the year, meeting the visiting Brooklyn Bulldogs.
The senior tandem of Mylo Mitchell and Andrew Utate made certain it would be a happy homecoming as the duo combined for 46 points as Lehman rolled to an 85-62 victory over Brooklyn.
“I thought that we came out with a lot of energy,” Lehman head coach Steve Schulman said. “Brooklyn really came out tough in the first half, but our guys really came out and weathered the storm, moved the ball, and we were able to stretch it out. Offensively we’re pretty gifted, we score the ball.
“We still have to learn to be a little more patient. I think that sometimes we shoot a little quick, but we make a lot of shots.”
Overall, Lehman shot 30-for-64 from the field, converting 12-of-26 attempts from behind the three-point arc. Mitchell led the team’s efforts with 25 points, six assists and a pair of steals.
“I hit one or two and I start getting comfortable,” Mitchell said. “The rim starts to get bigger and bigger.”
Mitchell was 7-for-10 from the field, adding 15 points on three-pointers alone.
“I get my shots because my teammates are able to find me on open transition shots,” Mitchell said. “We move the ball very well. I trust my teammates, they trust me, and everything just seems to work.”
One of those teammates is Utate, who tallied 21 points in 34 minutes on the court.
“I feel like I’m one of the do-it-all players,” Utate said. “We have Jean (Marcial) and a lot of other players, but the coaches and all of the players look at me as the one who does a little bit of everything — rebound, pass the ball, and score.”
Utate’s contributions are so valuable Schulman finds it hard to rest his senior during a game.
“I usually try to give Andrew a blow, but he’s our guy,” Schulman said. “He’s the one who keeps everyone together. I just felt that it was never time to get him out today. We have two great leaders — our captains in Jean and Andrew. They hold guys accountable. They’re in practice every day pushing everyone on. When you have leadership within your team, you tend to be a good one.”
“Me, Andrew and Jean are kind of the collective leaders, but we all come together and win as a team,” Mitchell said. “Drew’s been here longer than me, so I just follow him. He knows what it takes to win and be successful.”
Being a team leader is easier for Utate because of the relationship he shares with the Lightning players.
“I love this game because it’s what I do,” he said. “I have been playing this game since I was 11 years old, and not only that, but the players that we have on this court, I love them. They’re not teammates, they’re brothers. I hang out with them off the court, and that shows on the court defensively, offensively, and everything. I just love my brothers.”
This type of unity was obvious on the court as Lehman shot 47 percent from the field — 46 percent from three-point territory, and 87 percent from the stripe.
The victory boosted Lehman’s CUNYAC record to 3-0, and with another victory last Saturday — a 96-71 non-conference win over Southern Vermont — the Lightning now stand at 6-2 overall.
But now is not the time to get complacent.
“Its early, but I think we’re going to be a pretty good team,” Schulman said. “We have a lot of work to do and we have to keep improving, that’s the main thing.
The Lightning just need to stick with what’s been working so far this season, Utate said.
“We have to do the same things that we’ve been doing — lock in defensively, stick together, and find the win,” he said.
Lehman’s next game is a home contest against the College of Mount Saint Vincent on Dec. 18 as the Lightning look to earn its seventh win.