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Late Lafayette Run Costs Midshipmen, 65-63

Jordan Sugars tallied 20 points with six rebounds against Lafayette.

Jordan Sugars tallied 20 points with six rebounds against Lafayette.

Jan. 7, 2012

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Lafayette used a late 12-4 run over three-plus minutes to hand the Navy men's basketball team a 65-63 setback in the Patriot League opener for both teams on Saturday night in Alumni Hall.

The loss drops Navy's overall record to 3-12 and the Mids fall to 0-1 in Patriot League play. Lafayette improved to 6-10 overall and 1-0 in the league standings.

The Midshipmen led by four at 57-53 with 3:25 to play when Lafayette senior forward Ryan Willen took over. Willen scored on an offensive rebound putback on the ensuing possession to cut the lead to 57-55. Tied at 57, Willen then scored a conventional three-point play when he rebounded his own miss and was fouled on the putback to give the Leopards a 60-57 lead with 1:54 to play. He would add another jumper and three free throws to help the Leopards hold off the Midshipmen, 65-63.

Navy trailed 63-61 but a three-point attempt by J.J. Avila (So. / McAllen, Texas) was off the mark and Willen made two free throws with 4.8 seconds left to put the game away.

"We played hard and competed, but late in the game, we had the ball up five and we turned it over two straight times. In a one-possession game, that is important. We made the same mistakes down the stretch that continue to plague us," said Navy head coach DeChellis. "You look at them, they had three seniors step up and make plays for them. We are a young team that needs to know how to win games. We can't just say now we are experienced and it will fix itself. There is no doubt we are getting better as a basketball team, but we need to make some plays down the stretch."

Navy took control early in the first half and led by as many as 11 points and still led 30-21 with 1:53 to play before halftime on a Ted Connolly (Sr. / Wexford, Pa.) lay-up, but the Leopards responded with a quick 8-2 burst in the final two minutes highlighted by a pair of three-pointers to cut the halftime lead to 32-29.

"The last three minutes of the first half were really crucial. We gave their best perimeter shooters two wide-open threes and in a game like this, that ends up being very important," said DeChellis. "The most important stretch in a game is the last four minutes of the first half and first four minutes of the second half, and for some reason, we just lose our focus during that time. We played hard for 17-18 minutes in the first half and the last two minutes killed us. We just need to finish."

Lafayette would take a two-point lead at 41-39 with 12:17 to play, but Navy countered with an 8-0 run for a 47-41 advantage with 9:49 left in the game. Navy would still lead by five twice more in the contest, the last time coming at 51-46 on a pair of free throws by Avila with 6:58 to play.

But Navy would connect on just three-of-eight field goals while Lafayette made five-of-nine attempts, scoring five second-chance points in the final five minutes for the final margin.

Navy was 19-of-48 (.396) from the field and 5-of-18 (.278) from three-point range. The Mids made 20-of-22 (.909) from the free throw line and were guilty of a season-low nine turnovers. Lafayette outrebounded the Mids, 33-31, including 13 offensive rebounds. The Leopards had eight offensive rebounds in the second half to the Mids' eight defensive rebounds. Lafayette turned its 13 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points, and converted nine Navy turnovers into 13 points.

Lafayette shot 21-of-53 (.396) from the field and 7-of-22 (.318) from three-point range. The Leopards were 16-of-21 (.762) from the free throw line and had nine turnovers as well. Navy turned Lafayette's nine turnovers into just five points.

Jordan Sugars (Sr. / Winchester, Va.) led Navy with 20 points with six rebounds and two steals on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. Avila battled foul problems to score 15 points with eight rebounds and two assists in just 25 minutes of play. Freshman Worth Smith (Mooresville, N.C.) added 12 points, two rebounds and two blocks.

Willen led Lafayette with 21 points and five rebounds, Jim Mower had 13 points and Rob Delaney had 10 points with five rebounds and five assists.

Navy returns to the road when it travels to Worcester, Mass., to face Holy Cross on Wednesday night at 7:00 pm.

GAME NOTES
Navy started Jordan Sugars (68th career / 33rd cons.), J.J. Avila (34 / 16), James Loupos (18 / 2), Jordan Brickman (11 / 2) and Ted Connolly (2 / 1). It was the first game with this starting lineup and seventh different starting lineup in just 15 games ... Connolly's start was the first for him since Nov. 24, 2009, against Towson, during his sophomore year ... Navy now leads the series with Lafayette, 41-27, and fell to 31-11 against Lafayette in Annapolis ... Navy fell to 9-12 in 21 Patriot League opener, losing its second straight Patriot League opener. Navy is 7-6 at home in Patriot League openers ... the loss was coach Ed DeChellis' first setback against a Patriot League opponent in his 16-year career. He is now 9-1 against all Patriot League opponents ... Lafayette shot just 42.3 percent from the field in the second, the first time in five games that Navy's opponent shot under 50.0 percent from the field in the second half ... over the last six games, Navy has 74 turnovers, that opponents have turned into 96 points (1.30 point per turnover). In the same span, Navy's opponents have 82 turnovers that Navy has turned into just 69 points (0.84 point per turnover) ... Navy is now 0-4 in games decided by three or fewer points and 2-8 in games decided by single digits ... the Mids fell to 0-10 when shooting below 45.0 percent from the field and 0-10 when being outrebounded ... Navy has had halftime leads in each of the last three games and is now 3-5 in games it led at halftime ... Navy lost a double-figure lead for the first time this season and first time since blowing a 13-point lead against Coppin State last year (Dec. 7, 2010) ... the 11-point advantage was Navy's largest lead in the last eight games (since Nov. 27, 2011 vs. Mount St. Mary's) ... Jordan Sugars recorded his 58th career double-figure scoring game, his 21st 20-point game and his second 20-point game in the last three games. Over the last three games, Sugars is averaging 17.3 points per game ... Sugars became the fourth player in school history (Chris Harris, Greg Sprink and Michael Heary) with 500 career three-point field goal attempts. He now has 500 on the button ... J.J. Avila scored 15 points with eight rebounds for his 11th straight double-figure scoring game and 31st of his career ... Avila has had at least seven rebounds in six straight games and he has led the team in rebounding in six straight games ... Avila has now scored the ninth-most points by a sophomore in school history (587 points in 46 games) ... Worth Smith tallied 12 points for his fifth double-figure scoring game ... Smith became the 46th freshman in school history with 100 points, now with 104 points on the season.

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