Posted: 02/27/2013 | Last updated: February 28, 2013 at 09:13 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh men’s basketball raced out to a 19-point halftime lead and wouldn’t look back as the Mountain Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak with a 72-43 win over Navy Wednesday night in Stabler Arena. Four Lehigh players posted double-figure points, led by 17 from junior B.J. Bailey who was 5-of-7 from three-point range. The win marked the Mountain Hawks’ seventh straight over Navy as they improve to 19-8 overall and 9-4 in Patriot League play.
With the victory, Lehigh head coach Brett Reed became the winningest coach in school history with 113, breaking a tie with Tony Packer. Earlier this season, he became the fastest coach in Patriot League history to 100 victories.
“Ultimately I think our defensive effort, deflections and steals led to some easy opportunities for us on offense, which is a signature of where our defense has been strong,” said Reed. “In the first half, we had 12 assists on 13 field goals and overall, had 20 assists on 26 field goals. Another signature of our team where we shared the basketball, created opportunities and made the extra pass. Those two things, if we get back to the foundation, are critical to our success.”
Sophomore Stefan Cvrkalj scored 12 points, including a trio of three-pointers, while senior Holden Greiner finished with 11 on 5-of-6 shooting and classmate Gabe Knutson had 10 on a perfect 4-of-4 from the field. Lehigh distributed the ball exceptionally well, dishing 20 assists on 26 made field goals as 10, different players scored.
“It was nice that we were able to make shots,” said Reed. “B.J. Bailey from the perimeter, as efficient as he was, was critical in this game. Then, to add another element and bring Stef Cvrkalj in to knock down some shots, it continued to expand the defense and allowed us to get more opportunities to get some paint touches and some scores inside the three-point line. But it was nice that those two could step up. It’s really important that we feel comfortable and confident in our ability to step out and make those perimeter shots.”
Lehigh’s 43 points allowed marked a season best. Navy was led by Worth Smith who scored 11 points. No other player had more than six.
The Mountain Hawks broke open a tight 11-8 lead by scoring 17 of the next 21 points. Leading 16-10, Lehigh went on an 8-0 run which included threes from sophomores Cvrkalj and Corey Schaefer along with a fastbreak layup from junior Mackey McKnight, to make it 24-10 with 7:21 on the clock.
The lead swelled to 16 as a pair of Bailey free throws made it 28-12 with 5:33 remaining. The Mountain Hawks ended the half on a mini 6-0 run, using a Bailey three and Greiner three-point play to make it 36-17 at the half.
Bailey led the way with 11 first-half points while Cvrkalj had nine and Greiner seven. Lehigh shot 54 percent from the field (13-of-24) and 47 percent from long range (7-of-15) while Navy shot 41 percent (7-of-17) and 25 percent (1-of-4), respectively.
Leading 46-28 just over four minutes into the second, Lehigh staged a 20-3 run to blow the game open. Six straight points from Knutson, all in the span of 1:34, made it 60-31 with 8:04 to go. Goldsborough connected on a pair of layups down low in the span of 42 seconds before D’Orazio knocked down a pair of free throws for a 66-31 advantage with 6:05 on the clock.
Navy trimmed six points from the lead over the final minutes, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the 29-point margin of victory marked the Mountain Hawks’ largest in Patriot League play since an 86-51 win over Lafayette on Jan. 21, 1995.
Lehigh shot 54 percent (26-of-48), 35 percent from three-point range (9-of-26). Navy came in at 39 percent (16-of-41) and 29 percent from long distance (5-of-17). The Mountain Hawks won the battle of the boards, 30-22.
The Mountain Hawks will close out the regular season against Army Saturday at 12 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. With a win, Lehigh would clinch no worse than the #3 seed and could move up to the second seed if Lafayette loses. The Mountain Hawks could fall as low as the #4 seed with a loss and Lafayette loss. Lehigh has clinched a home game in the Patriot League Quarterfinals, which is set for next Wednesday (Mar. 6) at 7 p.m.
Like Lehigh Men’s Basketball on Facebook and follow on Twitter for exclusive content, team updates and more. Click here to vote C.J. McCollum for the Senior CLASS Award.
Individual and season tickets are on sale and may be purchased on Lehighsports.com, over the phone (610-758-4263) or in-person at Stabler Arena, Monday-through-Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.