Lehigh (7-8, 2-2) scored 15 of the game’s final 18 points to rally for a 78-73 victory over the Navy (8-8, 1-3) men’s basketball team, Sunday afternoon at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.
“We didn’t make the right decisions and we didn’t take care of the basketball down the stretch,” said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis.
“I thought we played hard today and competed. They (Lehigh) just made some big shots and we didn’t, and we turned the ball over.”
Lehigh held a 17-16 lead when it opened up a 32-22 advantage with just under 10 minutes left in the half. Navy quickly climbed back into the game and a Christian Jones (Sr., Bowie, Md.) triple tied the score at 32-32. The Mountain Hawks broke the tie with a three-point field goal, but the Mids closed the half on a 7-3 run to take a 39-38 lead at the break.
The lead changed hands six times in the opening 3:20 of the second half. The teams continued to exchange points with the Mids holding a slim lead for the next several minutes. A four-point play by Mac MacDonald (So., Richmond, Va.) gave Navy a 58-52 lead, but a 7-0 Lehigh run soon put the Mountain Hawks in front, 61-60.
Navy answered with an 8-0 run to regain a 68-61 lead. It was a 70-63 Navy lead before Lehigh closed to within one point at 70-69. Deaver answered with a three-point field goal at the 4:05 mark (73-69), but the Mountain Hawks were able to tie the game at 73-73 with 1:48 showing on the clock.
The Mids called timeout and after the break took their time on offense. Austin Inge (Jr., Greensboro, N.C.) drove to the basket and had his shot blocked with two seconds on the shot clock. He was out of bounds when he touched the carom with 1:15 remaining to give the ball back to Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks started their offense on the other end of the floor, but called timeout with 57.9 seconds left on the game clock and 13 seconds showing on the shot clock. When play resumed, Evan Taylor, who would total 26 points, drove from the right side of the court into the lane and lofted a 10-foot shot that went in with 53.6 seconds left to make the score 75-73.
Navy again was patient with the ball and when nothing opened up quickly called timeout with the clocks at 29.0 and 6 seconds, respectively.
Once the ball was inbounded, Tyler Nelson (Sr., Monroe, N.C.) started to drive down the right side of the lane, but had the ball knocked out of his hands and it would go out of bounds. After the officials reviewed the play, the game clock was set at 24.2 and the shot clock was set to 1 second.
Inge triggered the play and found Jones in the corner. His three-point attempt missed the mark and a shot clock violation was called. That left 23.6 seconds to play.
Lehigh inbounded and Keith Higgins Jr. was fouled with 19.6 seconds left. He went to the line for two shots and made both to extend the Lehigh lead to 77-73.
A three-point shot by Yoder missed and Lehigh grabbed the rebound. Higgins was fouled with 6.3 seconds left and made one of two foul shots to close out the scoring.
After Navy took the 70-63 lead with 7:09 left on the clock, the Mids were 1-11 from the field with four turnovers and the Mountain Hawks were 5-12 from the floor, 5-7 from the foul line and did not commit a turnover.
“We didn’t score, we turned the ball over, we didn’t execute and we didn’t guard,” said DeChellis of the last several minutes of the game.
Lehigh ended the game with 28 made field goals (48.3% shooting percentage) and nine three-point baskets (45.0%) to Navy’s 27 (45.8%) and eight (38.1%), respectively. Both teams shot 17 free throws with the Mountain Hawks making 13 (76.5%) and the Mids 11 (64.7%).
“We haven’t been able to guard the ball,” said DeChellis. “Historically, we have been pretty good defensively. We just right now can’t guard the ball.” They shoot 48 percent and 45 percent from three. That’s hard. We go down there and shoot 45 percent and 38 percent from three. It is a slim margin.”
Individually, Deaver scored 23 points to narrowly miss tying his career high of 25 points and Yoder bettered his previous career high of 20 points with 22 this afternoon. Deaver, Yoder and Nelson all shared the Navy lead in rebounds with seven.
Navy will be back in Alumni Hall Wednesday night when it plays host to Lafayette.