Lehigh guard Reed Fenton guards Navy's John Carter Jr. The Mountain Hawks suffered a 69-61 loss to Navy at Stabler Arena on Jan. 9. (Katie McNulty/B&W Staff)

Lehigh men’s basketball falls to Navy in first game of weekend series

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Lehigh men’s basketball lost 69-61 against Navy Saturday afternoon at Stabler Arena. It was the first meeting of the weekend series.

The Mountain Hawks fell to 1-2, while Navy, who played seven games already, improved to 6-1.

The Mountain Hawks originally planned to play a two-game series versus American this weekend, but the Covid-19 pandemic forced the team to reschedule and play the United States Naval Academy.

With the way that Navy’s schedule was set up, their first game was Nov. 25, while the Mountain Hawks first game was Jan 2. The Midshipman’s experience proved to be a big impact in today’s game. They got off to a fast start taking a 12-4 lead six minutes into the game.

While Lehigh cut the deficit to one at one point, it was all Navy offense in the first half.

The Midshipman led 34-27 at the half.

Sloppy turnovers and foul trouble played a key role in today’s game. Navy went to the foul line 26 times, while Lehigh went to the free-throw nine times. The Mountain Hawks also had 11 turnovers.

Junior center Nic Lynch said one of the biggest adjustments they’ll make before tomorrow’s game is ball security.

“The turnovers were much too high,” he said. “Defensively, I thought we were able to stick to our game plan pretty well. The only thing that hurt us on defense was rebounds… That’s going to be our big focus tomorrow.”

Since the Mountain Hawks found themselves in foul trouble, they looked to their bench early, who was critical in stabilizing the team, scoring 13 first-half points, including seven points, two assists and one rebound from freshman point guard Jalen Sinclair. Sinclair finished the night with a career-high 14 points.

Sinclair’s performance impressed head coach Brett Reed.

“I thought it was a very good display by him,” Reed said. “ He’s a young player, and we’re experiencing a young team that puts a lot of pressure on the perimeter, and a coaching decision to go to a freshman to put the ball in his hand and have him make more decisions cause more of the passing options are kind of cut off can be a little bit daunting. However, he answered the call.”

Lynch came out strong in the second half, scoring six quick points to give Lehigh its first lead of the game with 16 minutes remaining. Lynch finished the night with 17 points and has scored double digits in Lehigh’s first three games.

After Sinclair fed Lynch for an and-1 basket, senior guard Marques Wilson hit a three-point shot, and Lehigh was able to take a 43-41 lead to capture their biggest lead of the game. Despite this offense gaining some momentum in the second half, it was not enough to slow Navy’s offense down.

Midshipman guard Greg Summers hit a free throw with 10:23 left in the game to spark an eight-point run, and Lehigh’s offense could not bounce back after that.

Navy had four players finish in double digits. John Carter Jr. was today’s leading scorer. He finished the night with 18 points.

The Mountain Hawks will take on Navy again tomorrow, at Navy at 3:00 p.m. They have less than 24 hours to make changes before tomorrow’s game.

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