Navy Tops Army, 85-81, in Christl Arena Classic
Jan. 22, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Jordan Sugars led five Navy players in double figures with 25 points and O.J. Avworo hit four big free throws in the final minute to lift Navy to an 85-81 victory over Army in front of a raucous Christl Arena-record crowd of 5,178.
The win gave Navy its first Patriot League victory of the season and improved the Mids to 6-15 overall and 1-4 in the Patriot League. Army falls to 10-10 overall and 2-3 in the Patriot League.
"We aren't dead yet. We can put the shovels in the gravel and the tombstones away. I am humble enough after seven years in the league to know that we are a few possessions from being 4-1 in the league," said Navy head coach Billy Lange, who improved to 7-6 in his seventh season against Army. "This league is so competitive that it usually comes down to two or three possessions a game. We are building this season. We are starting to get there and have played well enough to win. This team has done more good things than any team I have had, except shooting the ball. It was good to finally shoot well and get the win."
"This feels great. It just feels good that we fought through adversity and put it all together. It was a total team effort," said junior guard Jordan Sugars (Winchester, Va.), who scored in double-figures for the 16th straight game and had his seventh 20-point game of the season. "It is such a different environment and the crowd is so intense and loud that you can't hear anything. Our freshmen came up big. They were huge for us tonight. It is just a great game to play in. Both teams are going to give it all they got."
Navy trailed by as many as 11 in the first half and trailed 41-40 at halftime, before opening the second half on an 11-0 run fueled by Isaiah Roberts (Fr. / Pennsauken, N.J.). Roberts buried two three-pointers in the run, sandwiched around a Greg Brown (Sr. / Waldorf, Md.) three-pointer for a 51-41 lead with 16:38 to play.
The Mids would stretch the lead to 13 at 56-43, before Army chipped away, cutting the Navy lead to three at 60-57 with 9:32 left to play. Navy, however, would not give up the lead, holding a 78-77 cushion with 56 seconds left.
Army coach Zach Spiker elected to foul O.J. Avworo (Sr. / Houston, Texas), a career 59.7 percent free throw shooter, for the remainder of the game. Avworo would hit four big free throws in the final minute to keep Navy in the lead, with his last two giving Navy an 82-79 advantage. After Ella Ellis missed an open three-pointer in the corner with 10 seconds left, Sugars connected on a pair of free throws for a 84-79 lead. Army connected on a lay-up late, but Sugars made one-of-two free throws with 1.4 seconds left for the final 85-81 margin.
Lange got a balanced effort up-and-down the lineup, as five players scored in double figures. Sugars led Navy with 26, moving him into 27th on the school's career scoring list with 859 points. It was his 41st career double-figure game and 15th career 20-point game. J.J. Avila (Fr. / McAllen, Texas), playing in his first Army-Navy game, scored 17 points with eight rebounds, four assists, two blocked shots and one steal. He has now scored 235 points, the 13th most by a freshman in school history. Roberts would tie a career-high with 13 points while grabbing a career-high seven rebounds.
"J.J. and Isaiah were ready to go and ready to play. The biggest thing is that we encouraged them and let them know that we got their back," said Sugars. "They were just out there playing basketball and enjoying it today."
"J.J. is just a very good basketball player and he will only get better. He was inside and outside tonight and did a lot of good things. He has made the adjustment mentally to not get down on himself. He is really oblivious to a lot of things going on around him except what's happening on the basketball floor," said Lange. "Isaiah is just a baller. We let him play like he is on the playground. That dunk he had in the first half was big for us, and his aggressiveness really opened some things up."
"It was exciting. I love playing in environments like this. It was a lot of fun out there," said Avila.
Avworo played one of his best games of the season with 15 points and a season-high nine assists with two steals against just one turnover. Avworo was 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Brown was the fifth Mid in double figures with 12 points and three blocks. Brown scored 10 points in the second half.
Navy shot 28-of-53 (.528) from the field, the first time in 29 games dating back to last year that Navy has shot over 50.0 percent from the field. The Mids went 11-of-26 (.423) from three-point range and 18-of-28 (.643) from the free throw line, including 17-of-22 (.773) from the free throw line. Navy had 15 assists, eight blocked shots and seven steals against 14 tunovers.
The Mids were coming off a 1-of-25 performance from three-point range against Holy Cross.
"The next day we had a shooting practice and we all know that is not going to happen again. We don't dwell on the past and keep going forward," said Avila. "Coach tells us that what happens will prepare us for the next game and what happened Wednesday night prepared us for tonight. We learned from it. We are going to come out and keep working on shooting and keep getting better."
Army shot 27-of-59 (.458) from the field, 14-of-30 (.467) from three-point range and 13-of-17 (.765) from the free throw line. Army was guilty of 18 turnovers, but outrebounded the Mids, 35-29. Army was led by sophomore Ella Ellis with 21 points.
Navy returns home on Wednesday night to face the preseason favorite, American, at 7:00 pm at Alumni Hall. The game will be carried by WNAV (1430 AM) and streamed online by the Navy and Patriot League All-Access packages. Tickets are available by calling 1-800-US4-NAVY, online at www.NavySports.com or at the Alumni Hall box office one hour prior to the game.
GAME NOTES -- Navy now leads the all-time series against Army, 70-43 ... Navy snapped a 28-game streak of shooting under 50.0 percent, dating back to Jan. 30, 2010, vs. Colgate ... the 166 combined points were the most in the series since Jan. 21, 2001 ... Navy's 85 points against Army is the most for the Mids in the series since March 3, 2001 (92 points) and the most points in Christl Arena since Jan. 24, 2001 (95 points) ... Navy's freshmen class scored 30 points, its seventh game of scoring 30 or more points this year ... Navy had five players score in double figures for the second time this year (Mount St. Mary's on Nov. 29, 2010) ... Jordan Sugars has scored in double figures in 16 straight games. Against Army, Sugars is averaging 14.6 ppg and 6.4 rpg in five games ... J.J. Avila has scored in double figures in seven of the last eight games and has made a three-pointer in seven straight games ... Navy avoided losing two in a row against Army for the first time since the 1991-92 season, and has won three of Lange's seven games at Christl Arena.
# GO NAVY #