Annapolis, MD – In a double overtime barnburner Lehigh fell to Navy 92-85 on Wednesday evening at Alumni Hall in front of 2,132 fans. The loss was the seventh straight for Lehigh at Alumni, and dropped the Mountain Hawks to 4-12 overall and 1-2 in the Patriot League. Navy improved to 7-11 overall and 2-1 in the league while upping its home record to 7-2.
"I thought it was a great basketball game," said head coach Sal Mentesana. "Any time you can come down to Annapolis and take Navy to double overtime in its own building, you got to feel pretty good about your effort."
The game was a tight one with both teams applying pressure and forcing turnovers. Navy finished with 27 turnovers while Lehigh committed 28. The last six minutes of regulation were back and forth with both teams holding and relinquishing the lead. Lehigh led 72-71 at the final television timeout with 2:29 to go in the game. Coming out of the timeout Navy rebounded a Lehigh miss and a layup by Jehiel Lewis gave the Mids a 73-72 lead with 1:48 to go in the game. Lehigh turned the ball over on their next possession but got it back on a pure hustle play by Scott Taylor. Ra Tiah tipped in a Taylor miss giving Lehigh a 74-73 lead with 44 seconds left. On the opposite end, Lewis converted one of two free throws to tie the game at 74 with 33 seconds to go. Lehigh called timeout with 24.9 seconds left to draw up a play. A missed jumper by Ra Tiah went out of bounds off of Taylor with 2.2 seconds to go giving Navy the ball. Out of a timeout Navy threw a court long pass that was broken up by Logie sending the game to overtime.
Navy scored first in the overtime period but Lehigh quickly countered with a Logie three giving the Mountain Hawks a 77-76 lead with just over four minutes to go. A pair of free throws by Francis Ebong put Navy up 78-77 with 3:56 to go. The Midshipmen extended their lead to four on a three pointer by Jason Jeanpierre with 3:21 to go. Alex Jensen made one of two free throws to put Lehigh back within three, 81-78 with 2:31 to go. A Navy turnover and a Taylor lay-up with just over two minutes go cut the lead to one. Each team then traded turnovers before Quintrell McCreary missed a pair of free throws to give Lehigh another chance to take the lead. Lehigh was unable to convert and Navy went up three on a Demond Shepard layup with 15.5 seconds left. Lehigh brought it across half court and took a timeout with 9.6 seconds left to draw up a play. Unable to find an open jump shooter, Tiah canned a three from three feet behind the arc at the top of key tying the game at 83 with 2.2 seconds left. Navy’s half court shot was no good sending the game to double overtime.
A free throw by Taylor opened the scoring in double OT giving Lehigh an 84-83 lead. A pair of free throws by Ebong gave Navy an 85-84 lead with 3:38 left. The Midshipmen took an 87-84 lead on a Lewis jumper after a Lehigh turnover with just under three minutes to go. A missed shot and a foul on Taylor sent Ebong to the line for two. He banked the first and missed the second giving Navy an 88-84 lead with 2:15 to go. Taylor then converted one of two from charity stripe to put Lehigh within three. A Navy miss and a Taylor miss gave Navy the ball with a minute to go. Lehigh needed a defensive stop; and it got one. The Mountain Hawks failed to convert however and were forced to foul on the inbound play sending Kyle Barker to the line for two. Barker canned both free throws giving Navy a five-point lead and making it a two-possession game. Navy then made a pair of free throws to make it a 92-85 final.
"Navy is a very good basketball team and if you give them enough chances they are going to find a way to beat you," added Mentesana. "They are a physical team that plays tough defense and pressures you for 40 minutes. In this case they did it for 50 minutes."
Both Matt Logie and Scott Taylor paced Lehigh with 19 points apiece. Taylor recorded a double-double grabbing 10 rebounds. Sophomore Ra Tiah scored a career high 17 points, including the three that sent it to double overtime, and dished out 9 assists, also a career high. Matt Crawford chipped in 15 points and pulled down eight boards before fouling out in the second overtime period.
Jehiel Lewis led Navy with a game high 21points on the night. Jason Jeanpierre added 19, recording 3 three pointers on the evening and dishing out five assists. Ebong rounded out Mids in double figures with 11 points and five rebounds.
Lehigh returns to action on Saturday hosting Holy Cross in a rare afternoon game at Stabler Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:15 in the second game of a Patriot League doubleheader.