Posted: January 11, 2006
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh opened the home portion of its Patriot League schedule with a hard fought 65-58 victory over Navy on Wednesday evening at Stabler Arena. Three Mountain Hawks hit for double figures, led by junior Jose Olivero’s 16 points, while senior Mitch Gilfillan added 13 and sophomore Bryan White scored ten. The game was also the season debut for senior captain Joe Knight, who missed the first 16 contests of the year, and Knight responded with nine points, three assists and one steal in 30 minutes of action. With the victory, the Brown and White improve to 9-8 on the season and a perfect 2-0 in league action, while the Midshipmen fall to 6-8 overall and 0-2 in league play.
Knight discussed what it was like to be back on the court following the game. “I was just excited to get out there with my teammates tonight. It took awhile for me to get my shot going, but it just felt great to be back out there.”
Lehigh shot 38 percent on the night, while Navy sunk 39 percent of its shots. The Mountain Hawks held the Mids to just 21 percent shooting on three-point field goals, but did turn the ball over 20 times. Lehigh out rebounded its opponent 45-37 for the game, but did struggle from the charity stripe, sinking just 13 of 26 attempts. White led the home team in rebounding with seven, while Gilfillan dished out a team-best four helpers. Navy was led in scoring by Greg Sprink’s 12 points and Carlton Baldwin’s ten tallies, with Corey Johnson pulling down a team-high eight boards.
Head Coach Billy Taylor expressed his thoughts about the win. “Navy is a very physical team that will never give up and you saw that tonight. The thing I like about our team is we have a lot of versatility, so even though we had a few guys getting into foul trouble tonight, we were able to bring in new guys that stepped up and got the job done.”
Lehigh quickly jumped out to an 8-3 lead at the 13:33 mark on a lay-up by senior James Anderson, and the Mountain Hawks remained up five when Gilfillan sunk a three-pointer with 9:58 left in the opening half. The Mids would not back down however, and went up one at the 5:59 mark when Kaleo Kina sunk a three of his own. From there the Brown and White went on an 11-0 run capped by a lay-up from White that put the home team ahead 26-16 with 3:40 to go. But again, Navy came back and sliced the deficit to just three at halftime, 28-25.
In the second half, Navy controlled the action for a good portion, going up by seven with 15:18 left on a jumper by Sprink. Lehigh was able to take the lead back though at 41-39 when Gilfillan sank yet another shot from downtown with 12:09 remaining. The two teams battled from there, trading the lead three times, while tying one another an additional three times. The Mountain Hawks were finally able to take the lead for good on a pair of free throws by junior Kyle Neptune at the 5:38 mark. Knight connected on a lay up on the Mountain Hawks next possession and from there Lehigh sank some free throws and tightened up its “D” to come away with the victory.
Lehigh returns to action on Saturday evening when the Mountain Hawks play host to Army at Stabler Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:35 from the STAR and tickets can be purchased at the arena box office prior to tip-off.