Late run lets Lehigh sail past Mids

January 29, 1995|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

All the signs favored Navy before its Patriot League game with visiting Lehigh at Alumni Hall yesterday.

The Midshipmen were coming off a two-point victory at Fordham on Wednesday, while, on the same night, the Engineers had been routed by 31 at Holy Cross.

But the Engineers showed how unreliable past performances can be in charting the future. Trailing 58-57 midway of the second half, they used an 18-4 run to grab a 75-62 lead with two minutes left and coasted to an 85-77 victory.

The Engineers (9-9, 4-3) enjoyed a 14-point cushion with 33 seconds left when a pair of three-pointers by reserve Navy guard Randy Torgrimson and another by forward James Norris made it deceptively close.

It was only the second loss at home in 10 games for the Mids (10-8, 3-4), and there was no room for alibis.

Lehigh shot 59 percent from the field, including 17 for 25 in the first half when junior guard Rashawne Glenn (26 points) made all six of his shots and was 3-for-3 from three-point territory.

"They were trying to stop my penetration and giving me the outside shot," said Glenn, who was fighting the flu. "I took what they gave me, and my shots were falling today."

Navy trailed by only four (39-35) at halftime thanks to strong inside play by Wes Cooper and Larry Green and the flashy playmaking of sophomore guard Brian Walker, who had six assists.

But even after T. J. Hall made consecutive steals and a three-point shot to give Navy a brief 58-57 lead, Lehigh never lost its poise.

And it was the zone defense that the Engineers practiced the past two days that was key in limiting Navy's two best outside shooters -- Hall and freshman Michael Heary -- to a combined 8-for-24 and 3-for-13 from three-point range.

"We were really afraid of Heary and Hall going into this game," said Lehigh coach David Duke. "But we did an excellent job of spreading our zone and keeping a hand in their face in the second half."

But inconsistent shooting was only part of Navy's problem.

"We just didn't do a good job of keeping them off the offensive boards in the second half," said Navy coach Don DeVoe, whose team leads the Patriot League in rebounding.

Lehigh matched Navy's 31 rebounds, with forwards Kem Widmer and Ivan Wilkins scoring key baskets on put-backs in the Engineers' decisive second-half spurt.

el,.3l "We knew Navy's reputation for pounding the glass," said senior center Jason Fichter (20 points). "Keeping Green and Cooper under control was a big concern of ours."

Navy lost one of its major offensive options when Cooper was benched after drawing his fourth foul with 6:25 remaining.

"Once we forced them to put up a lot of threes in the closing minutes we were in good shape," said Duke.

The Engineers could then concentrate on stopping Navy's perimeter game while also beating the Mids' traps for uncontested layups.

"I wanted my guys to keep attacking the basket in the second half," said DeVoe. "But since they moved in the three-point line this season, it looks so tempting and we kept taking the bait.

"But give Lehigh credit. They controlled the game. And it's a fact, that we've yet to win a game this year playing from behind.

I've got to find the right button."

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