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American Holds Off Furious Navy Rally, 67-60

Brandon Venturini tied a career high with 10 points and three assists in Navy's loss to American.

Jan. 18, 2012

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy men's basketball team cut a 25-point second-half American lead to just four late in the game, but couldn't complete the rally, falling to the visiting Eagles, 67-60, at Alumni Hall on Wednesday night.

The loss drops Navy's record to 3-15 overall and 0-4 in Patriot League play, while American improves to 12-7 overall and 3-1 in the league standings.

"I thought we played well the last 14 minutes, but you have to play 40 minutes. We are a very young team and we let things affect us. When they made a shot, we would deflate. You can't do that. You have to come down and work even harder the next possession," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "We made some plays and big shots during our run and our defense led to some offense. We were just trying to be aggressive late in the game. We were chasing them around and we wanted to make them play against us and not the other way. In the long term, you can't let people shoot 60 percent from three. Defensively, we just have a great deal of work to do."

American led 49-24 with 16:17 left in the contest, before Navy started its comeback. The Mids cut the lead to 51-36 with a 12-2 run over five-and-a-half minutes, but the Eagles still led 55-36 with 9:07 left.

Navy would continue to chip away, answering with another 11-0 run to trim the American margin to 55-47 on a Brandon Venturini (Fr. / Allendale, Mich.) three-pointer with 4:44 to play. Twice when Navy cut the lead to eight, American answered with a three-pointer to bump the lead back to 11, the last time coming at 61-50 on a 24-footer by Troy Brewer with 3:46 to play.

Navy then went on an 8-1 run to make the score 62-58 with 1:15 to play. After a pair of American free throws, Navy's Jordan Sugars (Sr. / Winchester, Va.) connected on a lay-up and was fouled for a chance to cut the lead to three. Sugars missed the free throw, but Worth Smith (Fr. / Mooresville, N.C.) grabbed the offensive rebound. However, on the way down, Smith's legs got taken out from under him and he was called for a traveling violation.

Navy would then have a turnover on its next possession on a double-dribble call on Jordan Brickman (Jr. / San Antonio, Texas) in which the American defender deflected the ball on Brickman's drive. American closed out the game by making three-of-four free throws in the final 24 seconds for the final seven-point margin.

Navy outscored the Eagles, 36-18, over the final 16 minutes of the contest.

Navy led early on, 9-6, but the Eagles went on a 22-7 run to grab a 28-16 advantage with 6:06 to play. American stretched the lead to 16 at halftime, 38-22, by holding Navy to just 13 points in the first half's last 15 minutes.

Navy shot 22-of-52 (.423) from the field, but was just 4-of-20 (.200) from three-point range. The Mids were 12-of-15 (.800) from the free throw line and committed a season-low nine turnovers.

American shot 21-of-41 (.512) from the field, 10-of-15 (.667) from three-point range and 15-of-19 (.789) from the free throw line. American was guilty of 15 turnovers and outrebounded the Midshipmen, 30-25.

J.J. Avila continued his sensational sophomore season with 24 points, four rebounds, three assists, one block and six steals. It marked the third straight game he has scored at least 20 points and he has had six steals in each of the last two games. The six steals in each of the last two games are tied for the sixth most in a game in school history.

"We started making shots and making plays and we started getting confidence on both ends of the floor," said Navy sophomore J.J. Avila. "I liked the way we fought back, but we need to play like that for 40 minutes, not 15. I feel like that we are going into every game knowing that we can win, we just lack some focus at key points in the game."

"We try to get J.J. the ball as much as we can in the post and that is different than last year. Last year, he ran around outside and shot threes all game. We want to get him the ball in the post and make him a more complete player. We made a conscious effort to get him the ball. He is a crafty, skilled post player and can get his shot off against anyone," said DeChellis.

Jordan Sugars added 11 points, while Venturini tied a career high with 10 points on 4-of-8 field goal attempts with three assists in 21 minutes.

"It doesn't matter what my role is. I just want to do what's best for the team and whatever I can do to help the team. At the end, we just wanted to execute and we did that. We need to do it for the whole game," said Venturini. "I just got more relaxed tonight as the game went on. I hope we found something tonight and if we can put together a whole game like the second half, it would be a big boost for us."

"Brandon was the only guy off the bench to give us something. We have started a ton of different lineups this year trying to find a spark and the right combination. He gave us a really big lift off the bench, making some shots and getting his hands on the ball," said DeChellis.

Charles Hinkle led American with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Navy will travel to Hamilton, N.Y., on Saturday for a 2:00 pm tip-off at Colgate. The game will be aired by Time-Warner Sports in New York and Pete Medhurst will call the game for WNAV (1430 AM, 99.9 FM,

Navy's starting lineup consisted of Jordan Sugars (71st career start / 36th straight), J.J. Avila (37 / 19), Isaiah Roberts (27 / 1), Jordan Brickman (14 / 5) and Donya Jackson (1 / 1) ... it was the first game with this lineup and ninth different starting lineup in just the 18th game ... American now leads the all-time series, 38-37, and is 8-3 against Navy at Alumni Hall. The Eagles have won seven of the last eight contests ... Navy is 4-20 against American since the Eagles joined the Patriot League in 2001-02 ... Navy has reached 70 points just three times in the 20 losses to American since 2001-02 ... over the last two games, opponents are 23-of-38 (.605) from three-point range against Navy. The Midshipmen are just 10-of-43 (.233) ... Navy has had nine turnovers in three of the last four games ... Navy's 11-game losing streak is the fourth longest in school history ... Navy's six-game home losing streak is tied for the fourth longest in school history ... Navy was 18-of-32 (.563) inside the three-point line against American ... of Navy's 15 losses this year, 10 of them have come by single digits and eight of them by seven points or less ... J.J. Avila recorded his third straight 20-point game and fifth of the season and 10th of his career ... the three-game streak of 20 or more points is the longest since Jordan Sugars scored over 20 points in three straight games on Dec. 10 to Dec. 30, 2010 ... over the last three games, Avila is averaging 22.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.3 apg and 4.3 spg ... his six steals against American were tied for the sixth most in school history ... he now has 12 steals in the last two games combined after having six against Army ... Avila has scored in double figures in 14 straight games ... Jordan Sugars' 11 points marked his sixth double-figure scoring game ... it was his 61st career double-figure scoring game ... Brandon Venturini recorded his second career double-figure scoring game, tying a career high with 10 points ... over the last three games, Venturini has 16 points and nine assists against just one turnover in 52 minutes ... in games that Venturini plays at least 10 minutes, he is shooting 15-of-37 (.405) from the field and 9-of-24 (.375) from three-point range ... when playing fewer than 10 minutes, Venturini is shooting 0-of-7 from the field and 0-of-5 from three-point range.




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