Navy Rallies to Knock Off Lehigh, 75-72
Jan. 18, 2017
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Sophomore George Kiernan scored a career-high 18 points with six rebounds as Navy (9-10, 4-3 PL) rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to defeat Patriot League preseason favorite Lehigh (10-8, 4-3 PL), 75-72, on Wednesday evening at Alumni Hall. The win was Navy's fourth straight conference victory and it moved the Mids into a three-way tie for third place in the Patriot League.
Kiernan scored eight points and junior guard Shawn Anderson scored six during a critical 21-3 run that lasted nine minutes and turned a nine-point Navy deficit (58-49) to a nine-point Navy advantage (70-61). Anderson scored the go-ahead layup at the 4:47 mark to give Navy a 60-59 lead. Lehigh was held without a field goal for an 11-minute stretch that overlapped with Navy's comeback.
Lehigh rallied late in the game to cut Navy's margin to two points at 74-72 with 11 seconds to play, but Bryce Dulin made one of two free throws with 10 seconds left to put the Mids ahead by three. Freshman center Evan Wieck blocked Austin Price's potential game-tying 3-pointer with four seconds left and then Price missed another 3-pointer and Anderson grabbed the defensive rebound as time expired.
Sophomore point guard Hasan Abdullah made 3-of-4 free throws in the final 43 seconds, had a big 3-pointer and an assist to Wieck during Navy's 21-3 run. Abdullah finished with 14 points and a career-high seven assists. Anderson scored 11 points and have five rebounds and four assists.
"To get a win like this was huge," said Abdullah. "It doesn't matter how far we are down, it doesn't matter if we are not making shots or if we had a rough start. I believe in my guys and we believe in each other and that we can always will our way back in."
Tim Kempton tallied 17 points with 10 rebounds for Lehigh and Kahron Ross also added 17. Price scored 14 points.
The game was very even in the first eight minutes with Lehigh leading, 16-14, before Navy reeled off a 9-0 run. Sophomore Ryan Pearson drilled a 3-pointer during the stretch and Wieck made back-to-back layups. Senior guard Tim Abruzzo sandwiched two 3-pointers around an Abdullah trey to give Navy a 10-point lead at 32-22 with four minutes to play in the first half. However, Lehigh would close the first half on an 11-1 run with a Kempton 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to halftime tied at 32-32.
Lehigh would push its lead to 11 points on a dunk by Pat Andree at 54-43 with 12:42 to play, before Navy senior James Hemphill scored two buckets inside as the tide turned in Navy's favor ahead of its key 21-3 run.
"It was a back-and-forth game and we were hampered with foul trouble in the first half," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "They made a run at us in the second half and made some baskets. They are a really good team. Our kids were resilient and fought back and made some plays to get us back into it. The crowd was good and we played with some momentum. George hit some big threes and James Hemphill came in off the bench and gave us a huge lift."
Navy outshot Lehigh 54 percent (27-of-50) to 51 percent (23-of-45) and held a 28-26 edge in rebounding. Navy's bench outscored Lehigh's reserves, 41-14, in a key aspect of the contest.
"I hope this win gives our kids some more confidence," said DeChellis. "They way we won it was really important. The bench play, being down, fighting back, making free throws at the end of the game. We made some free throws and some big plays down the stretch."
Kiernan was 7-of-11 from the floor and 4-of-6 on 3-pointers in just 23 minutes.
Navy snapped a six-game home losing streak to Lehigh, earning its first home victory against Lehigh since 2010. Prior to Wednesday's contest, Lehigh had won 13 of the last 14 meetings between the two schools.
Navy will next play at rival Army West Point on Saturday at 1:30 PM on CBS Sports Network.