Navy Moves Into First Place in Patriot League With 85-78 Win Over Lehigh
Feb. 10, 2010
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Chris Harris scored a career-high 40 points to lead the Navy men's basketball team to a 85-78 victory over Lehigh at Stabler Arena on a snowy Wednesday night. The win moves Navy's overall record to 12-12 and into first place in the Patriot League at 6-3. Lehigh fell to 15-9 overall and 6-3 in league play.
Navy moved into first place by virtue of a season sweep of Lehigh and Lafayette's loss to Colgate on Wednesday night. Navy has won three games in a row, by averaging 88.7 points per game over the last three outings.
Navy improved to 18-4 against Lehigh at Stabler Arena and has won four games in a row in Bethlehem.
"This was a tremendous team win in tough conditions. It has been a long couple of days, but I thought we were very focused and energetic tonight," said Navy head coach Billy Lange, in reference to treacherous driving conditions just to get to the game. "We just need to continue to improve, and that has to be our mentality as we move forward late in the season. I'm really proud we gutted it out, and stayed focused all day."
For Harris, the 40 points were the 11th most in school history and the most for a Navy player in Patriot League play. The total was the highest for a Navy player since David Robinson scored 50 points against Michigan on March 12, 1987, in the NCAA Tournament. Harris finished the game 10-of-21 from the field, 8-of-14 from three-point range and 12-of-13 from the free throw line. The eight three-pointers tied for the third most in a game in school history.
"Chris obviously had a great night, but every shot he took came in the flow of the offense," said Lange. "The ball moved really well tonight, and he is able to get better looks now because other players are stepping up and hitting shots."
The 40 points were the most in the Patriot League this season and the most since Lehigh's Joe Knight scored 45 in the 2005 Patriot League Tournament. The 40 points are the 10th most by a player nationally this season.
In addition, Harris now has 1,517 points moving into eighth on the school's career scoring list.
The Mids started slow, making just two of their first 12 shots in the game, falling behind 10-4 six minutes into the contest. But the Mids embarked on a 22-6 run over six-plus minutes to grab a 29-19 lead with 6:44 to play on a Greg Brown three-pointer. Navy would push the lead to 12 two separate times in the first half, before settling for a 43-36 halftime cushion.
Lehigh would come out strong in the second half, scoring the first nine points of the half to take a 45-43 advantage with 17:57 left. Lehigh would lead for the last time at 51-48 on a Gabe Knutson lay-up with 16:27 left.
The Midshipmen would retake the lead at 60-55, before Lehigh tied the game for the last time at 60 with 8:53 to play. The Midshipmen then seized control with a 16-6 run, the last three points of the run coming on a Romeo Garcia three-pointer as the shot clock expired with 3:05 left to push the Navy lead to 76-66.
Lehigh would get no closer than four points the rest of the way, and Navy made 9-of-13 free throws in the last two minutes for the 85-78 win.
Navy received outstanding contributions up and down the lineup, as T.J. Topercer came off the bench to play 19 minutes and score four points with five rebounds. After Lehigh cut the lead to 80-76 late in the game, Garcia took a charge to give the ball back to Navy and keep the Midshipmen lead at two possessions.
"T.J. and Romeo both gave us great minutes and made a lot of big plays tonight," said Lange. "T.J. has played really well the last two games and he is playing his best ball of the year. He is a senior. This is his last go-around, and the three seniors want to leave a legacy and go out on a positive note."
In addition to Harris' 40 points, he was joined in double-figures by Garcia with 10 points and a team-best seven rebounds. Jordan Sugars had nine points and O.J. Avworo had eight points and 11 assists against just two turnovers in 33 minutes.
Avworo became the first player in school history with double-digit assists in three straight games and his 11 assists tied a Patriot League record by a Navy player. Avworo is averaging 9.2 ppg and 7.0 apg in league play, and over the last three games is averaging 13.0 ppg and 10.3 apg.
Navy shot 41.0 percent (25-of-61) from the field and shot 45.2 percent (14-of-31) from three-point range and 77.8 percent (21-of-27) from the free throw line. Navy had 22 assists on 25 made field goals and committed just 13 turnovers. Lehigh outrebounded Navy, 48-34.
Lehigh shot 43.1 percent (28-of-65) from the field, but shot just 28.6 percent (4-of-14) from three-point range and 62.1 percent (18-of-29) from the free throw line. Lehigh had 15 turnovers. Freshman C.J. McCollum had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Mountain Hawks.
Navy will travel to Lafayette on Saturday afternoon for a 1:00 pm tip in Easton, Pa. Lafayette dropped a 74-73 decision to Colgate on Wednesday and is 5-4 in Patriot League play. The Leopards defeated the Mids, 90-77, in Annapolis on Jan. 16. Pete Medhurst will handle the radio call on WNAV (1430 AM) and SIRIUS (Ch. 130).
-- Navy won just its third road game this year, improving to 3-9 away from Annapolis.
-- Navy swept Lehigh for the second time in the last three years and is now 5-1 against Lehigh in the last six games ... Navy is 18-4 all-time against Lehigh in Stabler Arena and has won four in a row there ... the Mids improved to 45-16 against Lehigh all-time ... Navy now owns season sweeps against both Bucknell and Lehigh.
-- Chris Harris' 40 points were the most by a Navy player in a Patriot League game and the most for a Navy player since David Robinson scored 50 points against Michigan in the NCAA Tournament on March 12, 1987 ... his eight three-pointers were the third most in a game in school history ... Harris moved into sixth place on the single-season three-pointers made list with 72 ... he also moved into eighth place on the career scoring list (1,517 points) and needs just one assist to become the second player in school history with 1,500 points, 250 assists and 150 steals ... Harris has scored in double-figures in all 24 games this year, and has 13 games of 20 or more points this year ... he now has four 30-point games this year (just the 10th time in school history a player has had four 30-point games in a year) and five career 30-point games, the sixth most in school history.
-- O.J. Avworo had 11 assists, giving him double-figure assists in three straight games. He is the first Navy player to accomplish that ... he now has 133 assists this year (against 65 turnovers for a ratio of 2.05), ranking 15th on the single-season list ... his 242 career assists are the 14th most in school history ... in the last three games, Avworo has 31 assists against five turnovers.
-- Romeo Garcia had seven rebounds to lead the team in rebounds ... it marks the first time someone other than Jordan Sugars led the team in rebounding since Dec. 12 against Wofford, a span of 13 games.
# GO NAVY #