Jan. 5, 2008
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy men's basketball team overcame a sluggish first half to breeze past Longwood, 73-55, on Saturday night in Alumni Hall. The win gives Navy a four-game winning streak for the first time since Feb. 21 - March 4, 2001, and moves Navy's record to 7-8 overall. Longwood dropped to 4-14 with the loss.
The story again offensively was the trio of Greg Sprink, Chris Harris and Kaleo Kina. The threesome scored 57 of Navy's 73 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and dished out 11 assists. Sprink recorded the first double-double of the year for a Navy player with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Kina added 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Harris scored 18 points with five assists and no turnovers.
"They are playing with a lot confidence right now. It's no secret that they are the ones that we look to on offense to make plays," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "They have worked very hard in all aspects to get better and it is showing."
Navy also got a solid effort from freshman Romeo Garcia. The 6-4 guard finished with just two points, but grabbed 10 rebounds with two assists and two blocks, while committing no turnovers in 34 minutes. Garcia held Longwood's leading scorer Kirk Williams to just 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting. Williams entered averaging about 17 points a game and was coming off a 21-point performance on Wednesday at Boston College.
"I thought our defensive intensity tonight was outstanding, and it all started with Romeo (Garcia)," said Lange. "It was a great team effort led by him. The team fed off him and responded at the start of the second half in a tight game. I was pleased with the way we played tonight when we didn't shoot the ball well offensively."
The two teams slugged it out in the first half, shooting a combined 15-of-63 (.238) from the field, and committing 22 turnovers, en route to a 23-23 halftime tie.
The Mids came out in the second half and seized control immediately. Navy scored 25 of the first 32 points of the half to grab a 48-30 lead seven minutes into the second half. Longwood would get no closer than 11 at 52-41 the rest of the way.
Navy outscored the Lancers, 50-32, in the second half for the 18-point victory. The Midshipmen limited the Lancers to shoot just 26.2 percent (17-of-65) for the contest, and forced 17 turnovers.
"It all started with the defense. We were able to take better care of the ball in the second half and generate some offense because of our defense," said Lange. "I thought Longwood played tremendous in the first half. They were very well-prepared and had more defensive energy than we had offensive energy. We picked up our energy in the second half."
Navy finished the game shooting 21-of-57 (.368) from the field, including 14-of-28 (.500) in the second half. The Mids dominated the glass, outrebounding Longwood, 53-41.
Navy wrapped up its non-conference portion of the schedule with the victory and will now prepare for its Patriot League opener at Bucknell next Friday night on ESPNU.
"We have taken every game one step at a time and are just looking to improve in all areas," said Navy junior guard Kaleo Kina. "As good as Bucknell is, we just have to focus on us and our game. This week is about sharpening our skills and getting ready for the league."
Navy was also 7-of-21 from three-point range and went 24-of-32 from the free throw line. Navy also blocked a season-high seven shots. Freshman Mark Veazey grabbed seven rebounds, while Brian Richards and Adam Teague added five.
The 53 rebounds were the most for the Navy team since grabbing 71 against Lafayette on Feb. 23, 2005. The seven blocks were the most since blocking seven against UMBC on Jan. 3, 2006.
Navy and Bucknell will square off at Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg, Pa., next Friday night at 7:00 pm. The game will be aired by ESPNU with Bob Socci and John Feinstein calling the action.
# GO NAVY #