Jan. 26, 2012
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Lehigh jumped out to a 9-0 lead and the Navy men's basketball team couldn't get over the hump in the second half, falling to the Mountain Hawks, 71-60, on Thursday night at Stabler Arena.
The loss dropped Navy's record to 3-17 overall and 0-6 in the Patriot League. Lehigh improved to 16-6 overall and 4-2 in the league standings.
Navy trailed just 29-26 at halftime, but Lehigh quickly pushed the lead to double-digits at 42-32 with 15:36 to play. The Midshipmen would get to five at 42-37 on a Jordan Sugars (Sr. / Winchester, Va.) lay-up with 14:12 to play, but Lehigh answered with a 7-0 run for a 49-37 advantage with 11:43 left.
"We have stretches that we can't score and we let it affect us on both ends," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "I thought Lehigh played well in the second half and when (Mackey) McKnight came back into the game, he controlled the game and the tempo. He makes them go and puts a lot of pressure on the defense. We needed to keep the game in the 60s. In the first half, we did a pretty good job of that, but not so much in the second half."
Navy would get the lead to single-digits (54-45) with 6:28 left, but the Mountain Hawks scored the next five points and held at least an 11-point lead the remainder of the game.
Lehigh took advantage of 24 Navy fouls to shoot 34 free throws to the Midshipmen's 13. Navy made two more field goals and had 16 more field goal attempts, but were outscored 22-9 at the free throw line.
"We had more field goals than they did, but we can't get to the free throw line. That has been an issue all season. We aren't aggressive enough with the ball when we drive and take it to the hoop," said DeChellis.
Navy trailed 13-4 at the first media timeout, but scored on back-to-back three-pointers by J.J. Avila (So. / McAllen, Texas) and Worth Smith (Fr. / Mooresville, N.C.) to cut the lead to 13-10. However, Lehigh answered with a 9-2 spurt to grab its largest lead of the first half at 22-12 with 10:13 left.
But the Midshipmen regrouped and after trailing 28-19, ended the half on a 7-1 run, fueled by reserve center Jared Smoot
(Fr. / Crown Point, Ind.), who scored four points with three rebounds in the final six minutes of the half. Smoot's dunk off an offensive rebound with 1:19 left in the first half cut the Lehigh lead to 29-26, which was the halftime score.
Navy scored the opening hoop of the second half to get within one at 29-28 and were still within three with 18:30 to play.
Navy shot just 23-of-57 (.404) from the field, 5-of-18 (.278) from three-point range and 9-of-13 (.692) from the free throw line. Navy was guilty of 18 turnovers, but outrebounded the Mountain Hawks, 35-31. In three games last year against the Mountain Hawks, Navy was outrebounded by an average of 16.7 rebounds per game.
Lehigh shot 21-of-41 (.512) from the field, including 12-of-18 (.667) in the second half. The Mountain Hawks were 7-of-16 (.438) from three-point range and 22-of-34 (.647) from the free throw line. Lehigh had 17 turnovers.
Sugars led Navy with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Avila added 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 26 foul-plagued minutes. It marked the 16th straight game that Avila has scored in double-figures and he is now one of two players nationally (Princeton's Ian Hummer) to average 16.0 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game and 3.0 assists per game. Avila also moved into fourth place past Michael Heary in scoring by the end of his sophomore year, now with 683 points.
Navy's bench scored 24 points, fueled by Isaiah Roberts' (So. / Pennsauken, N.J.) nine points. Smith, who was playing with a stress fracture in his right foot, added seven points in 16 minutes.
Lehigh superstar C.J. McCollum had 24 points with 14 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Navy will host Bucknell on Saturday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, tipping off at 7:00 pm. For ticket information, call 1-800-US4-NAVY or visit the Alumni Hall box office one hour prior to tip off on Saturday night.
# GO NAVY #