Kiernan's Big Night Sends Navy Past Lehigh, 78-66
Jan. 2, 2018
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Junior forward George Kiernan scored a career-high 27 points with seven rebounds to lead Navy (10-5, 1-1 PL) to a 78-66 win over visiting Lehigh (6-7, 1-1 PL) in a Patriot League men's basketball contest on Tuesday evening in Alumni Hall.
After a Pat Andree 3-pointer gave Lehigh a 61-58 lead with 6:14 remaining, Navy went on a 20-3 run over the next 6:04 before a Lehigh layup with 10 seconds remaining left the final score at 78-66. Lehigh's lone basket during the spurt was a 3-pointer by Kyle Leufroy with 4:22 left, while Navy went 5-of-7 from the floor during the run and 9-of-9 at the free throw line.
After Andree's trey, Navy senior guard Shawn Anderson, who had not yet scored in the game and was 0-of-9 from the floor, made a jumper in the paint, got a defensive rebound, then finished an and-1 play after making a floater. After a steal by sophomore Evan Wieck, Anderson made a runner for a personal 7-0 run that put Navy ahead 65-61.
"I didn't think we started very well, but we surely finished well," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "We really made some nice basketball plays over the last four or five minutes. It was a very important game. There was pressure because kids know you can't go down 0-2 in the league."
Lehigh's Kyle Leufroy responded with a 3-pointer, but Navy would then outscore Lehigh 13-0 over the next four minutes to run away with the game. Kiernan made two free throws and then freshman guard Cam Davis drilled a huge 3-pointer in the left corner to put the Mids up six with three minutes to go. Senior forward Tom Lacey made two one-and-one free throws and then junior guard Hasan Abdullah finished a left-handed layup late in the shot clock to put Navy up 74-64 with 90 seconds remaining. Anderson and Davis calmly made two free throws apiece and Navy won its second straight game over Lehigh in Alumni Hall.
Kiernan scored 21 of his 27 points in the first half, while Abdullah (17 points) and Anderson (11 points) scored all of their points in the second half. Anderson also had seven rebounds and five assists with his 11 points.
Lacey returned from a one-game injury absence to post seven points and six rebounds in 23 minutes.
Davis scored a career-best 14 points in a career-high 27 minutes of action.
Lehigh's Jordan Cohen, filling in for injured starter Lance Tejada, led the Mountain Hawks with 17 points. Senior Kahron Ross had eight points and nine assists, and became the Patriot League all-time leader in assists with 600.
Navy had a slow start to the contest, shooting just 27 percent in the opening 20 minutes and trailing at halftime, 35-31. However, Navy rebounded to shoot 57 percent in the second half and outscored the Mountain Hawks 47-31 in the critical second half.
"Defensively, I thought the zone was very good for us tonight. I thought we really defended well in the second half," DeChellis said. "In the first half they were really taking us off the dribble. We didn't do a good job of containing the ball. So we went to the zone to try to keep them somewhat off-balance."
Kiernan scored 21 of Navy's 31 first-half points, including Navy's final 14 of the opening frame. Kiernan finished the game 6-of-13 from the floor, 4-of-7 on 3-pointers and 11-of-14 at the free throw line. He logged a career-best 31 minutes.
"My teammates put me in the best positions to shoot the ball tonight," said Kiernan. "Honestly, shooting the ball is pretty easy when you are getting great looks and are in great rhythm thanks to the guys who were creating in Shawn, Bryce and Hasan. That set me up for success."
Abdullah's 17 points came on 8-of-15 shooting and he also had two steals. Abdullah entered the game ranked ninth in the NCAA in total steals and he now has 36 on the season.
Navy's 12-point win on Tuesday was its largest over Lehigh since Feb. 24, 2001 (75-59).
Navy improved to 9-0 this season and 19-0 over the last two seasons when scoring at least 70 points.
The Mids will next host American (3-10, 0-2 PL) on Friday at 7 PM in Alumni Hall.