The Lehigh men’s basketball team defeated Navy 74-55 behind a solid defensive showing and wing play by senior Austin Price and junior Brandon Alston.
Lehigh (15-11, 9-6 Patriot) played smothering defense, shutting out Navy in the opening four minutes of the game. Lehigh coach Brett Reed praised his players for this stretch they were able to put together.
“I was really pleased with the way in which we started with defensive discipline . . . our guys were in the right spot doing the right things,” Reed said.
Disciplined they were, forcing the Navy offense to turn the ball over early and turning those into easy looks on the offensive end. Reed also cited senior captain Tim Kempton’s seven rebounds in the first half as an important piece of the early dominance.
Another key to the Mountain Hawks’ first-half dominance was the successful shooting across the board, especially by Alston, who finished as the team’s top scorer in the first half after shooting 100 percent from the field.
”I don’t think it was me ‘feeling it’ so much as myself just taking good shots and having the confidence that those shots are ones that I can make consistently,” Alston said with a calm demeanor.
All of these pieces came together perfectly in the first half, as the Hawks went on a 16-8 run in the first 10 minutes of the game, ending the half with a 34-23 lead despite eight turnovers in key moments.
The beginning of the second half began to look like a tale of two halves, as Navy came out to the tune of a 11-3 run, a stretch where many calls were not going Lehigh’s way, according to Coach Reed and Alston. After this stretch, a timeout and more big offensive play, this time by Price, seemed to be the turning point after a rocky start to the half.
”We just came together as a team and said that this would be a night where we would come out, get our stuff together and win this game,” Price said. “Simple as that.”
Get it together they did. After being held to just four points in the first half, Price exploded for 15 points in the second half, shooting 50 percent from 3-point range and 5-of-7 from the field.
“First half I came out and focused on playing within the team and running the right stuff, then second half came and I just got comfortable, felt pretty good and was looking for more shots,” Price said.
The whole team seemed to feel it after a rocky start to the second half, as it shot a 60 percent from 3-point range and 83 percent from the free throw line. The team spread the wealth, having five players score in double digits, including Price scoring a team-high 19 points.
With the win, Lehigh pushed its home record to 9-2, with a Sunday game against Lafayette up next before finishing with two home games.
“Fortunately, we have played well at home, we expect to play well at home,” Reed said. “We take pride in not only putting on that Lehigh jersey, but also having our community come out, support us, and watch our product.”