Sophomore guard Keith Higgins attempts a shot in the Feb. 16, 2023 game against Navy. Higgins finished the game with 14 points. (Eric Mehlman/B&W Staff)

Lehigh men’s basketball falls to Navy at home


Lehigh men’s basketball fell 74-65 to Navy on Wednesday night at Stabler Arena. This was Lehigh’s fourth loss in their last five games, allowing Navy to tie the Mountain Hawks for second place in the Patriot League.

Lehigh (14-12, 9-6 PL) hosted the Midshipmen (16-11, 9-6 PL) in their second to last home game of the season. When the teams last played, on Jan. 8, Lehigh won 78-73 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Lehigh started the game with first-year Henri Adiassa at center. Sophomore guards Keith Higgins and Tyler Whitney-Sidney were in the backcourt, with senior forward Evan Taylor alongside sophomore guard Ben Knostman to round out the starting lineup.

Entering the game, Lehigh sat one game above Navy, who was tied with rival Army for third place. For the upcoming Patriot League playoffs, the top four teams will play at home, making this game influential for home court advantage.

Navy came into the matchup with a four-game winning streak. Lehigh, having lost three of their last four games, was looking to get back into the win column. 

“I felt like there were some positive vibes going into this game,” head coach Brett Reed said. “We had seen some improvements in our offense from the previous game and addressed a few things we needed to get better at defensively.” 

Navy came into the game rolling early, going up 14-4 early in the first half. Lehigh called a few early timeouts to stop their momentum, however, Navy kept in front throughout the first frame, leading 35-28 at the half. 

Navy led the way in rebounding. By the end of the first half, the Midshipmen held a 23 to 15 advantage that led to 15 second-chance points. Navy also kept a hold of the ball better, turning the ball over four times compared to Lehigh’s six.

Taylor led the way in scoring for Lehigh with 10 first-half points, helping them stay in the game. 

“During the half, coach really focused on us offensive rebounding, stopping them from getting offensive rebounds and playing tough,” Taylor said. “That was the biggest thing that got us back into the game because it helped us execute.” 

Taylor ended up coming out of the locker room and opening the scoring for Lehigh, sinking two free throws 10 seconds into the half.

Junior forward JT Tan also came alive in the start of the second half, converting on two layups in the first half.

Tan, who started games earlier in the season, said Reed always wants the forwards to “go up strong” and attack the basket.

“(I’ve been) working on my post (game), working on one move to get to the basket and go up strong,” Tan said.

Other forwards, including junior Dominic Parolin, got involved in the scoring, as well, in the second half. Parolin hit a crucial shot with just under seven minutes left in the game to bring Navy’s lead down one. 

Lehigh took the lead for the first time with 13:39 remaining in the second half. While the Mountain Hawks were able to jump ahead a few more times in the half, they could not hold on to it for long, as the Navy took charge of the scoring once again as the game headed down the stretch. 

Trailing by 11 with two minutes to go, Lehigh looked for a last-minute comeback, as Keith Higgins was fouled on a 3-point attempt. He made two out of three free throw attempts, giving the standout sophomore 12 second-half points. Higgins ended up leading all scorers in the second half and finished with 14 points. 

In the final two minutes, trailing by seven, Lehigh began to press full-court to limit the time of possession for Navy. However, it did not change the outcome, as Navy would hold on to win 74-65. 

“We just didn’t make shots,” Taylor said. “To be honest, I did not make some shots I should have made. For us, we just need to execute our defense and avoid breakdowns to prevent a collapse like tonight.”

Reed commented on the team’s willingness to fit for each other, noting how coming back from a deficit is not an easy feat and involves a lot of energy.

He said he wanted to see more consistency from the team in the closing weeks of the season and also see them limit their defensive breakdowns.

“(Navy) made their shots and unfortunately, we didn’t convert,” Reed said. “We had layups that we missed and open jump shots that we just did not make and when you’re going against a good team, you have to do that at a higher rate.” 

Lehigh will face American University away on Feb. 18. 

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