Jan. 27, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Vlad Moldoveanu scored 37 points and American shot 62.5 percent from the field in the second half to hand the Navy men's basketball team a 69-59 setback on Wednesday night.
The loss drops Navy's record to 9-12 overall and 3-3 in the Patriot League. American improved to 6-15 overall and 3-3 in the Patriot League. The result, combined with others on Wednesday night, created a logjam for third place in the league standings as Navy, American and Bucknell all own 3-3 marks.
Moldoveanu, a 6-10 transfer from George Mason who became eligible at the start of the second semester, connected on 10-of-17 field goal attempts, 3-of-6 three-point attempts and 14-of-15 free throw attempts for his career-high total. He scored 21 of American's 30 first-half points, as the Eagles led 30-23 at the break.
"We tried everything on him. We tried fronting him, tried playing behind him, tried going small or big on him. It really didn't matter what we did. He was the difference tonight and he is obviously a very, very good player," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "He is just a very tough matchup. If you go small on him, he will back you down. If you go big on him, he will drive around you or shoot from the outside. We had no answer for him. I thought we did a pretty good job on everyone else."
Meanwhile, for the second straight game, Navy took a half to get its offense untracked. The Mids shot a season-low 29.6 percent in the first half, but got back in the game thanks to shooting 48.0 percent from the floor in the second half. However, Navy only recorded nine assists on 20 field goals, while American was credited for an amazing 21 assists on 24 made field goals.
"We didn't play great offensively tonight. I just thought we weren't very smooth," said Lange. "Our energy was good for most of the game, but it was unfortunately one of those games. We got off to a good start, but it just kind of unraveled there in the first half. In the second half, I thought our flow and efficiency and movement was much better.
"It was encouraging that we had a chance to win it. We just gotta keep getting better," said Lange. "In this league this year, it is going to come down to who is playing the best basketball in March. That is how even this league is."
Navy trailed right after break, 36-27, but went on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 38-37 with 12:57 to play. Five times Navy cut the lead to one, the last time at 46-45 with 9:47 to play, and had three chances to take the lead in the final 10 minutes, but failed to convert on all three opportunities.
American used a quick 11-3 run after Navy cut the margin to 46-45 to grab a 57-48 lead and the Eagles' lead never dipped below six in the final seven minutes.
The Midshipmen got off to a good start to the contest, jumping out to a 10-4 cushion six minutes into the game, but Moldoveanu sparked an American rally, scoring 21 of American's first 25 points of the game. The Eagles would eventually take a 20-18 lead with 6:26 to play and would hold the advantage the rest of the contest.
Navy shot 38.5 percent (20-of-52) from the field, 21.1 percent (4-of-19) from three-point range and shot just 65.2 percent (15-of-23) from the free throw line. The Eagles shot 53.3 percent (24-of-45) from the field, shot 40.0 percent (4-of-10) from three-point range and made 85.0 percent (17-of-20) of their free throw attempts. The Eagles outrebounded Navy, 35-23, but Navy forced 20 turnovers compared to committing 14. However, Navy only scored 10 points off the 20 AU miscues.
Chris Harris led Navy with 21 points on 5-of-12 shooting and 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Jordan Sugars was the only other Mid in double figures with 11 points and a team-best eight rebounds. O.J. Avworo had six points and six assists, while Mark Veazey had eight points and Romeo Garcia had seven.
Stephen Lumpkins joined Moldoveanu in double figures with 14 points.
Navy will return home as it wraps up the first half of Patriot League play with a Saturday night tilt against Colgate, beginning at 7:00 pm at Alumni Hall. Tickets are available by calling 1-800-US4-NAVY or at the Alumni Hall ticket window prior to the game.
# GO NAVY #