Jan. 13, 2007
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy men's basketball team jumped out to a 16-3 lead 10 minutes into the game and cruised past Lafayette, 60-44, to give the Mids their first Patriot League win of the year. The Mids improved to 11-7 overall with the win and 1-2 in league play, while Lafayette dropped to 7-11 and 1-2, respectively.
"We played hard today and brought our focus and intensity right from the start," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "We had struggled at the start lately, and it was good to get off to a good start."
The story of the game was the Navy defense. The Mids held Lafayette to shoot just 22.7 percent (5-of-22) in the first half and forced 19 Leopards' turnovers. The result, however, was just a 28-16 halftime lead as the Mids shot just 26.9 (7-of-26) percent in the first 20 minutes. The Mids started the game 3-of-6, but finished the half 4-of-20 in the last 17 minutes. Lafayette stayed in the game by grabbing 11 offensive rebounds in the first half.
"Lafayette is a tough team to guard, because they are a deep team and have a lot of guys that can shoot the long ball," said Lange. "We got after them defensively pretty good. We needed to get off to a good start, and we carried that over for the majority of the game."
Navy kept the lead between 11 and 18 for the entire second half, limiting Lafayette's second-chance points. The Leopards grabbed just four offensive rebounds in the second half and shot 36.7 percent in the second half. The Leopards shot just 30.8 percent for the game.
"It feels great to get the first league win in front of our home crowd and alums that were here," said Navy junior guard Greg Sprink, who led Navy with 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists for his 15th career 20-point game. Sprink also moved into 20th place on the school's career scoring list, currently with 923 points. "We had great energy at the start and were really excited to play. We1 played really well defensively."
For the game, Navy committed 15 turnovers and forced 24 Lafayette miscues. Navy shot 34.0 percent from the field and was 20-of-25 from the free throw line, led by Sprink who went 10-of-10 from the stripe.
The win was encouraging for Sprink, who noticed a change in practice following the Lehigh loss.
"It starts with being more responsive to coach and maturing and growing up," said Lange. "We took pride in making it tough on them and we strive to play like that every game. We just need to sustain it now over the rest of the year."
The Mids will need to sustain the intensity and focus if it intends to make a move in the Patriot League. The Mids will play their next three games on the road - Wednesday at league-leader Holy Cross, next Sunday at arch-rival Army and Jan. 27th at American.
"We are playing better now then when we were 7-2," commented Lange. "But we aren't performing individually as well. Some guys are struggling with their shot, but that will come around. But today's performance is something to build on. No win is as important as the next one, so hopefully we can come out on Wednesday with the same energy."
Besides Sprink's 23 points, Adam Teague also contributed 10 points, six rebounds and three steals. Kaleo Kina added eight points, six rebounds and three assists. Matt Betley led Lafayette with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
- Navy has now surpassed its win total of the previous two years. The Mids are 11-7 in 2006-07. The 2004-05 and 2005-06 teams won 10 games each.
- Navy has now won all three games at Alumni Hall against Lafayette in the Billy Lange era. The Mids have won by 19, 20 and 16 points, respectively. The three totals are the three largest against a Patriot League opponent under Lange.
- Navy has now held 11-of-18 foes to 65 points or less, including four opponents to 47 points or less.
- The Mids are allowing just 58.0 ppg in Patriot League play.
- Sprink has scored in double figures 48 times in his career and 15 times this year. The Mids are 11-4 when Sprink scores in double figures.
- The 44 points scored by Lafayette are the fewest for a Patriot League foe since Army scored 37 on Feb. 28, 2004.
- Lafayette entered the game as the top-scoring team in the Patriot League at 67.4 ppg, and was shooting 45.6 percent. The Leopards scored just 44 points and shot 30.8 percent.
- Navy avoided an 0-3 start in Patriot League play for the second straight year.
- Navy is now 8-1 when holding foes to shoot 40 percent or lower.
# GO NAVY #