Women's Basketball Uses Offense and then Defense to Defeat Lehigh
Jan. 28, 2018
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- After a strong first half on the offensive end of the court, the Navy women's basketball team relied on its defense down the stretch to hold off Lehigh, 53-50, Saturday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis. The result gives Navy a 7-3 record in league play and a 17-4 record on the season, while Lehigh falls to 6-4 in league play and 12-9 overall.
Navy is now 12-0 at home this season and has won 14-straight home games, which is tied for the second-longest home winning streak in school history. The Mids previously won 14-straight home games from Feb. 15, 1997-Feb. 11, 1998. The school record for consecutive home wins is 16, which was set from Dec. 18, 1994-Dec. 30, 1995.
"I think we always play pretty well here," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper on the team's success in Alumni Hall. "We certainly had a great crowd here (672). I think it was Scout Night, and our marketing staff does such a good job of getting fans here. On a Saturday night in January at 7 p.m., this was a good crowd as we often do (have). I think our players feed off of that. There was good energy in the building. They do take pride in protecting the home court."
Lehigh scored the opening basket of the game, but Navy ran off the ensuing 10 points which led to an early timeout by the Mountain Hawks. Taylor Dunham (Sr., Fort Belvoir, Va.), who totaled just two points (0-7 from three-point range) in Navy's loss Wednesday at Bucknell, drained a pair of triples during that quick start by the Mids.
Navy would take a lead of as many as nine points in the first quarter (18-9) before Lehigh closed to within three points at 23-20 two minutes into quarter number two. The Mids would close the half on a 15-6 run to take a 38-26 lead at the break.
"We scored (about) as many points in the first half as we did in the whole game Wednesday at Bucknell," said Pemper on Navy's start to the game after the team's 47-39 loss at Bucknell. "Our team just came out with a great attitude, good energy, some determination, a let's get back at Lehigh after we lost to them (66-63) earlier this season, let's get back in the win column, protect our home court, just some nice determination and confidence to start the game."
Dunham drained her fifth triple in five attempts from beyond the arc toward the start of the third quarter to make the score 41-28 in favor of the Mids, with Navy eventually taking its largest lead of the game at 47-33 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.
The wheels started to come off for Navy over the next 10 minutes of play as it was outscored 14-2 during that span to allow Lehigh to close to within two points at 49-47 with 3:50 remaining in the game. After the margin was cut down to two points, Navy would miss a shot on its end of the court, with Lehigh missing a triple on the other end that would have given the Mountain Hawks their first lead since the score was 2-0. Fenske snared the defensive board and would eventually fed Kaila Clark (So., Hughesville, Md.) for a 17-foot jumper from just to the left of the high post that found its mark to double Navy's lead out to 51-47 with 2:24 still to play.
Navy quickly regained possession on a steal by Clark 20 seconds later. Dunham missed a triple on the resulting possession, with Lehigh grabbing the errant carom. Bianca Roach (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) then stole the ball again and went from the Lehigh side of halfcourt to the Navy basket and was fouled on her layup attempt. She converted both attempts from the charity stripe to build the Navy cushion out to 53-47 with 1:26 remaining.
"I totally agree," said Pemper on the statement that the steals by Clark and Roach helped secure the win. "Kaila hit that late jumper too."
Camryn Buhr promptly made a layup for Lehigh 20 seconds later to slice the margin down to 53-49. Buhr then stole the ball from Roach with Roach committing a foul to stop play with 43.3 seconds left. Navy called timeout after Buhr -- who was the only Lehigh player to score in the fourth quarter -- made the just the second of her two efforts.
The Mids kept the ball in Dunham's hands for the majority of the ensuing possession as time ticked away. She would eventually try an off-balanced three-point heave from the top of the key just before the shot clock expired. The attempt missed its mark with Buhr grabbing the long rebound. Lehigh fumbled the ball several times as the Mountain Hawks tried to advance the ball into their offensive end, which led to their calling timeout with 5.0 seconds left.
Buhr inbounded the ball on the side of the court across from its bench into the hands of Quinci Mann who was stationed above the three-point line at the top of the key. As she tried to make a move toward the left wing, she was fouled by Roach with 3.5 seconds left. Mann missed her first foul shot, then intentionally missed her second try. Jasmine Bishop (Fr., Twinsburg, Ohio) grabbed the rebound for Navy with the Mids immediately calling timeout with 1.3 seconds still to play. The Mids chose to advance the inbounds play to in front of their bench during the stoppage. Navy inbounded the ball and Lehigh committed a foul with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. With the Mountain Hawks not yet over the foul limit, Navy would be inbounding the ball yet again. The Mids did so successfully to run the scant time remaining off the clock.
"We have a lot of pride in our defense in every game," said Dunham. "When our shots aren't falling we want to be able to rely on our defense."
Navy scored 38 points in the first half on 6-9 (66.7%) shooting from three-point range and a 42.4 percent (14-33) effort from the field in all. The Mids were just 1-6 from three-point land and 6-21 (28.6%) from the floor in the second half. That included four points on 1-9 (11.1%) shooting from the field, which included a 0-3 effort from three-point land, in the fourth quarter.
Navy held Lehigh to 33.9 percent shooting in the game, which included a 4-16 (25%) showing from three-point land.
Navy also was 6-6 from the foul line for the game while Lehigh was 6-13 (46.2%) from the charity stripe. The Mountain Hawks were 5-11 (45.5%) from the free throw stripe in the fourth quarter.
The Mids decisively won the turnover battle in the first half. Navy scored 16 points after the nine turnovers it forced in the first 20 minutes of play while allowing Lehigh to tally just seven points after the five turnovers committed by the Mids. However, the second half saw Navy commit 15 turnovers which led to 13 Lehigh points, while the Mids tallied four points after the six turnovers committed by the Mountain Hawks.
Navy entered the Saturday averaging 14.4 turnovers a game during the league campaign and 14.9 a game for the full season. The 20 turnovers were the most committed by the Mids in a league game this year and fell one short of tying their season high of 21 turnovers.
Dunham scored a game-high 17 points to lead a trio of Mids in double figures. She was joined by Laurel Jaunich (So., Charlotte, Vt.) with 12 points and Clark with 10 points. Clark also notched her second double-double in three games and her fourth of the season with 10 boards. Additionally for Navy, Fenske totaled six assists, five points and five rebounds.
Buhr led Lehigh with 16 points, which included her scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Navy will be back in action one week from today when it plays at Colgate.