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Large Lead Disappears in Navy Loss

Navy to close first half of league season Saturday

Jan. 25, 2012

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The efforts of a dominant first half by the Navy women's basketball team were erased by a dismal second half as the Midshipmen squandered a 16-point halftime lead to drop a 50-46 decision to Lehigh Wednesday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.

"We lost our poise and composure," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. "We didn't have anyone step up. It is a really disappointing loss; I don't remember a more disappointing one. I just feel like we gave Lehigh the game.

"We don't have the poise, we don't have the leadership (we need) and we have to try and find it. I think we have the ability to have it."

The Mids (10-10, 3-3 Patriot League) held an 8-5 advantage early in the game before going on a 15-2 run that gave the Mids a 23-7 lead with 9:15 remaining in the first half. Navy held Lehigh (12-8, 5-1) to just one field goal over the remainder of the frame to build a 33-17 lead at intermission. Navy outshot Lehigh 46.2%-14.3% in the first half, with the Mids also holding a 25-14 rebounding advantage over the Mountain Hawks during the first 20 minutes of play.

The tables quickly turned in the early part of the second half. The opening 10 minutes of the half saw the Navy offense miss seven of its eight field goal attempts and turn the ball over seven times (which followed a first half that saw the Mids commit just eight turnovers). Defensively, Navy allowed the Mountain Hawks to connect on 8 of their first 13 shots on their way to tying the game at 36-36 with 10:08 left in the game.

A pair of free throws by Erin Edwards (Sr., Hockessin, Del.) gave Navy a 38-36 lead, then Alix Membreno (So., Loxahatchee, Fla.) took the ball from one endline to the other in scoring on a layup to boost the advantage for the Mids to 40-36 with 7:46 left to play.

That lead was short-lived, however, as back-to-back field goals by Lehigh started a 13-0 run that allowed the Mountain Hawks to open up a 49-40 lead with 1:33 remaining on the clock. Lehigh connected on half of its 10 field goal attempts taken during the run, while the Mids missed all six of their field goal attempts and turned the ball over another five times.

The Lehigh run was stopped when Audrey Bauer (So., Lake Zurich, Ill.) drained a three-point field goal with 1:14 left on the clock. A Lehigh turnover on the inbounds pass gave the ball back to the Mids, which resulted in Kara Pollinger (So., Fort Gay, W.Va.) drilling a three-point shot of her own to make the score 49-46 with just under 60 seconds remaining in the game. Lehigh's ensuing possession ended without a field goal attempt as an inbounds pass from Emily Gratch went wide of her intended target and out of bounds with 33 seconds remaining.

Following a Navy timeout, the Mids were able to get the ball to Edwards for a three-point shot at the top of the key. Her attempt missed its mark with 23 seconds left, but the carom was knocked into the hands of Membreno to allow Navy to maintain possession. Pollinger soon had the ball, but Aly Byorick picked off a short pass from Pollinger that was intended for Membreno with 15 seconds remaining in the game. Forced to foul several times to reach the bonus, the Mids sent Katie O'Reilly to the line with nine seconds left to play. She made the first attempt and missed the second, with the game ending following a missed three-point attempt from Bauer with two seconds left on the clock.

"I think we beat ourselves," said Pemper. "Again, our defense was good enough. We couldn't take care of the ball. Nobody played well."

Navy was just 3-of-13 (23.1%) from three-point range in the second half and made only 4-of-21 (19.0%) shots from the field in all during the final 20 minutes of play. The Mids also turned the ball over 13 times in the second half and let Lehigh shoot 52 percent from the floor.

Only five Mids scored points in the second half, with none tallying more than three points during the frame. Bauer and Membreno each scored nine points in the game, with Chloe Stapleton (Fr., Cary, N.C.) adding eight points.

Gratch scored all 12 of her points in the second half to share scoring honors with Kelly Peterson, who herself tallied 10 second-half points.

Navy will close out the first half of the league season Saturday at Bucknell.

 

 

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