Navy Uses Balance to Defeat Lehigh
Feb. 19, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Five Mids scored in double figures to lead the Navy women's basketball team to a 79-59 victory over Lehigh Wednesday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.
The win gives Navy an overall record of 21-5 and a Patriot League mark of 13-2. The Mids remain in first place in the league standings by one game over second-place American (12-3) and by two and one-half games over third-place Army (10-4).
"I'm really happy," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. "It was a real good team effort. We were unselfish."
Kara Pollinger (Sr., Fort Gay, W.Va.) had the hot hand early on as she scored Navy's first eight points and 11 of the team's first 15 as the Mids jumped out to a 15-7 lead. Lehigh chipped away at the deficit and soon tied the game at 21-21. Navy would hold a 24-23 lead with 9:45 left in the first half when neither team could put the ball through the hoop.
The Mids were the first team to end the drought as Chloe Stapleton (Jr., Cary, N.C.) drained a three-point shot with just under eight minutes remaining before halftime. About one minute later, Stapleton ended a Lehigh possession with a steal and turned the miscue into another three-point basket. A Lehigh miss was followed by M.L. Morrison (Sr., Southlake, Texas) three-point shot that boosted the Mids out to a 32-23 lead. Alix Membreno (Sr., Loxahatchee, Fla.) promptly snared a defensive carom on one end of the floor and then was fouled while driving to the rim on the other end. She would make one of her two free throw attempts. Lehigh turned the ball over on its next possession, with Jade Geif (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.) scoring on a jumper for the Mids to cap an 11-0 run that gave them a 35-23 lead with just over five minutes left on the clock.
Lehigh sliced the margin down to five points, but Navy scored the final eight points of the first half to head into the locker rooms with a 46-33 advantage.
Navy connected on 63 percent of its field goal attempts in the frame, including a 9-of-14 effort (64.3%) from three-point range. Defensively, the Mids held Lehigh to 38.7 percent shooting and just a 3-of-6 performance from outside the arc.
The Mids, who rank among the nation's leaders for the fewest turnovers committed in a game (15.5), turned the ball over 11 times in the first half but forced Lehigh into 10 turnovers.
Lehigh quickly scored the first four points of the second stanza to pull to single digits at 46-37. Navy's lead would soon be 10 points at 51-41 when the Mids went on a 12-0 run to take a 63-41 advantage with 13:38 left in the game. Stapleton accounted for half of those 12 points on a pair of three-point field goals.
The Navy lead would grow to as many as 27 points at 72-45 with 9:30 left in the game.
Navy ended the game shooting 50.8 percent from the field and making 12-of-25 three-point attempts (48.0%). Helping the Mids to that mark was their recording 20 assists on their 30 made field goals. On the other end of the floor, Lehigh was limited to 34.4-percent shooting from the floor and to a 4-of-16 night from three-point range (25.0%).
The Mids also held a 41-32 advantage on the glass, which helped to negate the 19 turnovers they committed. Navy forced Lehigh into 15 turnovers.
"We really focused on it (turnovers) at halftime," said Pemper. "We had some travelling violations, so it is not like they (Lehigh) had a lot of steals, per se. But they are high in the league in forcing turnovers. They do work hard, but we have to be sharper and we were a little bit in the second half."
Pollinger shot 70 percent from the floor (7-10) and made 4 of 7 three-point attempts on her way to scoring a game-high 18 points in just 23 minutes of playing time.
"Kara Pollinger; what a game, what a player, what a leader," said Pemper.
Stapleton also found her shooting rhythm as she too was 4 of 7 in three-point shots and sank 5 of her 9 shots from the floor in all in scoring 14 points. Geif, who had started all 122 game of her career until coming off the bench tonight, also was 5 of 9 from the floor while making each of her four foul shots to score 14 points. Audrey Bauer (Sr., Lake Zurich, Ill.) totaled 11 points and seven rebounds for Navy, Membreno recorded 10 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Morrison posted seven assists, six points and five rebounds.
Four Lehigh players scored in double figures in the game. Lexi Martins led the Mountain Hawks with 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field.
Navy will close the home portion of its regular season Saturday when the Mids play host to Holy Cross. Note the start time for this game is 2 p.m.
Patriot League Standings (games left)
13-2 Navy (3)
12-3 American (3)
10-4 Army (4)
9-6 Bucknell (3)
9-6 Holy Cross (3)
7-8 Lafayette (3)
6-9 Boston U. (3)
4-10 Lehigh (4)
2-13 Loyola (3)
2-13 Colgate (3)