Jan. 1, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Norfolk State went 12-of-16 from the field in the second half and rallied from a six-point halftime deficit to hand the Navy men's basketball team a 71-65 setback in the Mids' non-conference finale on New Year's Day at Alumni Hall.
Navy concluded non-Patriot League play with a 3-11 mark, while Norfolk State, which owns wins over Drexel and TCU as well as a two-point loss to nationally-ranked Marquette, improved to 10-5.
Navy played perhaps its best half of basketball in the first half, jumping out to a 36-30 halftime lead while shooting 62.5 percent from the field and limiting the Spartans to just 38.7 percent. However, Norfolk State turned the tables in the second half, connecting on 75.0 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, missing just four times on 16 field goal attempts.
In the second half against Mercer on Friday, the visiting Bears shot 15-of-21 (.714) from the field. The two teams combined (Norfolk State and Mercer) shot a sizzling 27-of-37 (.730) from the field in the final 20 minutes.
"It's the same thing that happened against Mercer in the second half. We couldn't stop them or guard them. In saying that, we still had a chance to do something late. We just took two really tough shots at tough times," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "We fought and competed and played hard, but we just didn't guard anyone in the second half."
Despite the hot shooting, Navy still led by three at 48-45 with 13:43 to play, when the Spartans used a 10-3 run to take a 55-51 lead on a four-point possession with 9:31 to play. Navy would cut the lead to one several times, the last occurrence coming with 1:53 to play on a Jordan Brickman (Jr. / San Antonio, Texas) jumper with 1:53 to play.
Trailing by two at 66-64 with 30 seconds left, senior Ted Connolly (Wexford, Pa.) missed a three-pointer that NSU rebounded and made one subsequent free throw for a 67-64 lead. Thurgood Wynn (So. / Bethesda, Md.) would make one free throw on Navy's next possession to cut the margin to 67-65 with 10 seconds left, but Chris McEachin made two free throws with nine seconds left and then Jamel Fuentes stole the Navy inbounds pass and made two more free throws for the final six-point margin.
Navy jumped out to a 10-4 early lead, but Norfolk State responded with a 17-6 spurt, mostly thanks to seven Navy turnovers in an eight-minute span, for a 21-16 advantage with 7:18 to play in the first half.
Navy answered right back with a 20-6 spurt of its own to take a nine-point lead at 36-27 with 1:08 to play. The Midshipmen had a chance late in the half to push the lead to 11 by holding for essentially the last shot, but a J.J. Avila (So. / McAllen, Texas) lay-up attempt with six seconds left on the shot clock and nine on the game clock, rolled off the rim and Fuentes took the ball for length of the court for a conventional three-point play for a big five-point swing right before half, cutting the Navy lead to 36-30.
Navy ended up shooting 25-of-52 (.481) for the contest, including 8-of-24 (.333) from the three-point line, missing its last seven three-point attempts down the stretch. Navy was also just 7-of-12 (.583) from the free throw line, committed 12 turnovers and were outrebounded, 29-28.
The Spartans shot 24-of-47 (.511) from the field, 6-of-14 (.429) from three-point range and 17-of-22 (.773) from the free throw line. Norfolk State was guilty of 10 turnovers.
Avila paced Navy with 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while freshman Worth Smith (Mooresville, N.C.) added a career-high 13 points with two rebounds and an assist on 5-of-6 shooting. Sugars added 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Navy also got strong contribution from Connolly off the bench, playing a career-high 24 minutes with two points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against no turnovers.
"We wanted some toughness and energy tonight, and Teddy can bring that," said DeChellis. "When you lose some games, you try to shake some things up and see what some guys can do. I thought he did some good things and played pretty good defense throughout the game."
Pendarvis Williams scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half, while preseason MEAC Player of the Year Kyle O'Quinn, a 6-10, 240-pound center, added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Navy closes out its three-game homestand on Saturday night when it hosts Lafayette in the Patriot League opener for both teams. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 pm at Alumni Hall and tickets can be purchased at the Alumni Hall box office one hour before game, online at www.NavySports.com or by phone at 1-800-US4-NAVY.
Navy's starting lineup consisted of James Loupos, J.J. Avila, Jordan Brickman, Isaiah Roberts and Jordan Sugars. It marked the fifth time this particular lineup has started a game (0-5) ... Navy lost its seventh straight game, the longest streak since the 2003-04 season (13 games) ... Norfolk State scored 41 points on 24 second-half possessions ... The Spartans' 75.0 percent field goal shooting in the second half is the 10th-best percentage in a half for an opponent against Navy in school history, and best since the 2005-06 season ... over the last five games, opponents are shooting 127-of-233 (.545) from the field against Navy ... Navy's 36 points were the most in a half since scoring 37 in the first half against Monmouth on Dec. 6, a span of eight halves ... Navy's 65 points were the most since scoring 88 against Penn State-Altoona on Nov. 13 ... Navy went 17-of-28 (.607) from inside the three-point line against the Spartans ... Navy's 12 turnovers tied a season low. Over the last five games, Navy has committed just 65 turnovers (13.0 per game) ... J.J. Avila recorded his 10th straight double-figure scoring game with 18 points ... Avila becomes the second player in school history (Vernon Butler) to score 500 points, grab 250 rebounds and dish out 100 assists by the end of their sophomore years ... Avila has led the team in rebounding in five straight games, averaging 7.8 rebounds per game during that span. Over the last five games, Avila is averaging 19.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 3.6 apg ... Avila recorded his 13th double-figure game of the year and 30th of his career ... Avila now has 572 points, the 10th most by a sophomore in school history ... Jordan Sugars recorded his 57th career double-figure scoring game and moved into 13th place on the school's career rebounding list (561) ... Worth Smith's 13 points were a career high and marked his fourth career double-figure scoring game.
# GO NAVY #