Navy (15-5, 6-1 Patriot League) won its sixth straight game on Wednesday night by upending Lehigh 69-64 is Bethlehem, Penn. The win means Navy has its best 20-game start to a season since 2000 and the 6-1 Patriot League record is the team's best run out of the gate in conference play since 2001. The win also snapped an 11-game losing streak to Lehigh and kept Navy tied for first in the Patriot League with Bucknell. Navy will now look to use this narrow win as a boost before its first meeting of the season with Army on Saturday afternoon.
Here is a look back at the three keys in the win over the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh:
1. Make the passes count - Pass
After assists on 36-of-37 baskets against Lafayette on Saturday the Mids followed up nicely by dishing out 16 assists on 28 baskets against Lehigh. Tilman Dunbar was again the star of the show, creating opportunities for others with his slick passing and ability to find that pass while in traffic. His five assists on the day though were matched by Shawn Anderson and as both players only had a single turnover each it is easy to see where the Navy offense was running through on Wednesday night. The result of this play was a career night for sophomore forward Tom Lacey who scored 18 points (and grabbed six boards) in large part due to the exceptional play of his two guards.
2. Defense wins championships - Pass
Navy actually gave up more points in this game (64) than they average conceding in Patriot League play (61.6), but it was still a decent defensive showing against a Lehigh team that can score the basketball. If anything the Mountain Hawk shooting percentages were higher than the coaching staff would like as Lehigh shot 45-percent from the field and 42-percent from three. The Mids however won the game as they were able to force 18 turnovers while turning the ball over just 13 times themselves. In a contest where many of the stats were even, the ability of the Navy defense to apply strong pressure and force mistakes decided the outcome of the game.
3. Stop Tim Kempton - Pass
Kempton was effective in this game, but he was held under his scoring total and rebound total in Patriot League play so it has to be seen as a victory for the Mids. Kempton scored 16 points (averages 18) and grabbed seven rebounds (averages eight) as Navy worked on containing his offensive production and making him a non-factor on defense. The only reason that Kempton managed to hit the 16 point mark was because he was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line as Navy defenders worked on denying the entry pass to the big man and challenged every shot. It was telling that the game essentially ended on a Kempton turnover with ten seconds left with the Mountain Hawks down by three points.