Posted: January 15, 2005
Annapolis, MD – Lehigh let a 16-point second half lead evaporate but on the strength of 25 points by junior Joe Knight, the Mountain Hawks held on for a 72-67 victory over Navy on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Hall.
Lehigh placed three players in double figures and used some clutch free throw shooting and tight defense down the stretch to pull away for the road win in a game that saw 52 fouls called.
With the win Lehigh improves to 9-7 on the season and stays perfect at 3-0 in league play, while the Midshipmen fall to 4-11, 0-3 in the Patriot League.
Knight added nine rebounds, four assists and four steals on the afternoon, while Jason Mgebroff scored 12 points and added five assists. Jose Olivero battled an early eye poking to score 10 points, including seven in the final 2:25 to aid the Lehigh cause. Navy was led by Taj Matthews and his 16 points, while George O’Garro (14), David Hooper (12) and Greg Sprink (10) also all hit for double figures for the Midshipmen.
The two teams battled feverishly for the first twenty minutes, with neither team able to open up a lead bigger than seven points. Knight scored 14 points in that half, and also added three steals, while Mgebroff hit for 11 tallies and established a career-high in assists with four, to propel Lehigh to a 38-33 lead heading into the locker room. Mgebroff and Knight pulled down a team high four boards in the half as well. The Mountain Hawks shot 47 percent from the field and connected on eight of nine free throws, while also out rebounding the Midshipmen 15-11.
Navy was led by Matthews, who scored 13 points, including three shots from behind the arc, but the Midshipmen hit only 39 percent from the field and turned the ball over ten times in the first half.
Lehigh came out strong in the second half, with a quick 6-0 run, but Navy answered with six unanswered points of its own. The Mountain Hawks then took control of the contest and opened up that 16-point lead with 9:55 remaining on a free throw by Kyle Neptune. But Navy slowly chipped away at the lead and eventually tied it at the 4:13 mark. Knight would then take the game over and did not allow Lehigh to lose, scoring, assisting and helping lead Lehigh to the victory.
For the game, Lehigh shot 42 percent while Navy hit on 38 percent of its shots. Lehigh was out rebounded by the Mids 40-35, but had 15 assists to Navy’s 11.
Head Coach Billy Taylor, coaching in his 75th career game, was pleased with the way his team came back, but would have liked to see his Mountain Hawks put the game away earlier. “Our guys battled Navy the entire game. We knew that they (Navy) would come after us in the second half and make a run and they did. Joe Knight stepped it up down the stretch, as did Jose with big shots and the rest of the guys rebounded well and played very good defense.” Taylor concluded, “It’s always good to get a road win, so we’ll take this one.”
Lehigh returns to action on Friday, January 21, when the Mountain Hawks travel to Hamilton, New York to take on the Raiders of Colgate. Tip-off is set for 7:00 and all of the action can be heard live with Matt Kerr on ESPN Radio 1230 AM and 1320 AM, as well as on Lehigh’s website at lehighsports.com with streaming audio provided by Yahoo! Sports.