Jan. 22, 2014
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- A balanced offense that shot nearly 50 percent from the field and had five players score in double figures led the Navy women's basketball team to a 73-61 victory over Lehigh Wednesday night at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pa.
The Mids improved their Patriot League record to 7-0 -- the best start to a league season in school history -- and their overall record to 15-3 with the victory, while the Mountain Hawks fell to 2-5 in league play and 9-9 on the year with the loss.
"I thought it was a good road win against a talented and deep Lehigh team," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper.
Navy's offense took a little while to find its gear as Lehigh scored seven of the game's first nine points. The Mountain Hawks still held a four-point lead at 13-9 when Jade Geif (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.), who in the game's opening minutes broke the Navy record for career caroms with her 924th board, scored on a layup to slice the lead in half. After a missed trey attempt by Lehigh, Sarita Condie (Fr., Loveland, Nev.) drained a three-point shot on the ensuing Navy trip down the floor. A little more than one minute later, Audrey Bauer (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.) hit a jumper to give Navy a 16-13 lead with 13:16 left in the half
Navy would hold the lead for the remainder of the game, but it would dip down to just one point at both 16-15 and 19-18 before a layup by Alix Membreno (Sr., Loxahatchee, Fla.) and a three-point shot by Chloe Stapleton (Jr., Cary, N.C.) boosted the Mids out to a 24-18 lead. Navy's cushion would alternate between four and six points for the remainder of the half until the Mids took a 37-31 lead at the break.
The Mids took a 10-point lead in the early minutes of the second half when Geif's two free throws gave Navy a 47-37 lead with 15:37 showing on the clock. After a jumper by Lehigh's Sarah Williams made it an eight-point game, the Mids scored on three of their next four possessions to expand their lead out to 15 points.
Both teams missed shots on their next respective trips down the court, then a Lehigh missed shot was gathered in by Membreno. That led to her assisting on a three-point shot by Stapleton. The Mountain Hawks missed a shot on their next possession, with Membreno scoring on a layup while being fouled on the other end. After a Lehigh timeout, she would sink the foul shot to convert the three-point play. Katie O'Reilly scored right away for the Mountain Hawks, but the Mids had three shots on their ensuing possession before Stapleton buried another triple for Navy to give it a 56-41 lead with 12:49 left to play.
The Mountain Hawks would quickly score the ensuing eight points to cut the margin down to seven at 56-49. Each team came away empty on their next respective time down the floor, then Membreno scored on a layup for the Mids. A Lehigh turnover was followed by a triple by Kara Pollinger (Sr., Fort Gay, W.Va.). Kerry Kiney hit a jumper for the Mountain Hawks, but Pollinger hit another trey -- her third of the half -- to give Navy a 64-51 lead. Lehigh turned the ball over again, with Audrey Bauer (Sr., Lake Zurich, Ill.) draining Navy's seventh three-point shot of the second half the next time the Mids had the ball. That gave Navy a 67-51 advantage with eight minutes left to play.
"Making shots at the start of the second half was huge," said Pemper. "Lehigh cut into the lead, then Kara had two big three-point shots. On one of them, we ran a play and she made a read on it she never makes. Those were the biggest shots of the game."
Navy shot just over 47 percent from both two-point (18-38) and three-point (11-23) range in the game, while Lehigh was 1 of 18 (5.6%) from three-point land and shot 35.7 percent from the field overall on the night. Helping Navy to its strong shooting was it dishing out 22 assists on its 29 made field goals.
The Mids also held a 45-40 advantage on the boards.
"Lehigh worked really hard on the glass," said Pemper. "That was important tonight. Erin Meador (Jr., Clifton, Va.) had some big boards for us coming off the bench."
Membreno connected on 8 of 12 shots from the floor in totaling 18 points. She also snared seven rebounds and dished out five assists. Pollinger was four of five from three-point range and six of 10 in all from the floor to tally 16 points to go along with her seven rebounds and six assists. Geif and Bauer both totaled 10 points, with Geif also falling just one rebound shy of a double-double with her nine boards and Bauer dishing out six assists. Rounding out Navy's scoring was Condie, who made a pair of triples on her way to scoring eight points.
"Alix really battled tonight," said Pemper. "Sarita also hit a couple of big shots. And having 22 assists was great."
O'Reilly connected on 8 of 11 shots from the field to score a game-high 19 points.
"Lehigh forced us into a season-high for turnovers (18)," said Pemper, "and we had a hard time guarding Katie O'Reilly. Combine that with being on the road against a difficult defense and we are happy to come out of here with the win."
Navy will remain on the road this weekend as the Mids will play Saturday at 2 p.m. at Holy Cross.