Lehigh moves into first place tie atop league standings
Posted: February 7, 2004
Annapolis, MD – Lehigh used a stifling defense and red-hot shooting to cruise past Navy by a score of 66-38 at Alumni Hall on Saturday afternoon. The victory is the Mountain Hawks’ fourth straight, and it pushes Lehigh (14-7 overall, 7-1 Patriot League) into a tie for first place with Lafayette. The defeat drops the Midshipmen to 3-18 overall, and 0-8 in Patriot League play.
Lehigh set the tone early in the first half, keeping the Midshipmen from any sort of offensive rhythm. Navy shot just 22% from the floor (6-of-27) in the first stanza, en route to 13 points. That Navy point total is the second fewest number of points allowed in a half by the Mountain Hawks this season (Army scored ten in the opening half against Lehigh on Jan. 25).
Meanwhile, Lehigh freshman Jose Olivero scored ten in the first half, and came away with two steals as the Mountain Hawks built a 29-13 halftime advantage. Junior Earl Nurse – who scored four and pulled down four rebounds in the opening half – blocked two Navy shots.
The second half proved to be more of the same as the Mountain Hawks blew the game open. Lehigh used a 15-0 run early on in the half to thwart any Navy hopes of a comeback.
Two freshmen paced Lehigh in the scoring column. Jose Olivero (3-of-4) and Kyle Neptune (6-of-8) scored 12 points apiece on the afternoon. Nurse scored eight points and grabbed a game-high seven rebounds in the victory. Senior co-captain Austen Rowland scored nine points, pulled down five boards, and dished out four assists in limited minutes.
“When you have balance on the floor in terms of scorers, it makes it that much harder to defend against,” said Lehigh head coach Billy Taylor. “It was good to see a lot of guys get into the flow offensively.”
As a team, the Mountain Hawks shot 61% for the game – easily the best team shooting effort of the season. The lofty shooting percentage includes an impressive 6-of-10 effort from beyond the three point arc. The Lehigh defense held Navy to just 28% shooting, and the Lehigh D forced 18 Navy turnovers.
Lehigh's 7-1 record in Patriot League games marks the best league start in school history.
“We’ve got a tough road ahead of us,” Taylor cautions. “Bucknell won’t be an easy task, but we know our guys will be ready to play.”
Lehigh returns to the court on Tuesday, when the Mountain Hawks visit Bucknell. Game time is set for 7:00 from Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg. Radio and Internet broadcast coverage will get underway at 6:45.