HAMILTON, N.Y. -- Mitch Rolls three-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark and the Navy men's basketball team held on for an 81-78 double-overtime victory over Colgate on Saturday afternoon. The win was Navy's third in a row and moves the Midshipmen into a third-place tie in the Patriot League standings with an 8-15 overall record and a 3-4 mark in league play.
Colgate falls to 4-17 overall and 2-5 in league play. The win was just Navy's second win in nine games at Cotterell Court since the 2002-03 season.
Navy rallied from a four-point deficit in the first overtime, then made all seven of its free throw attempts in the second overtime for the three-point victory. After losing three games so far this year by three or fewer points, Navy won its first game decided between zero and three points this year.
"We came in here and caught Colgate coming off a big win against Holy Cross and they played a great game tonight. We took every punch they threw and we did a great job hanging in there and winning with some toughness," said Navy head coach Billy Lange.
Navy played long stretches without key players as leading scorer Jordan Sugars (Jr. / Winchester, Va.) missed eight minutes in the second half after picking up his fourth foul early on. Senior guard O.J. Avworo (Sr. / Houston, Texas) fouled out early in the first-overtime session.
The Mids had several players step up, in particular, Greg Brown (Sr. / Waldorf, Md.) and freshmen James Loupos (Fr. / Skillman, N.J.) and Brennan Wyatt (Fr. / Greensboro, N.C.). Loupos scored five points in 11 minutes in the second half, while Wyatt played 18 minutes of turnover-free ball in crunch time.
"Their performances were huge. Loupos came in and gave great minutes and Brennan Wyatt did a great job in the overtime sessions navigating the scene and running our offense well. That speaks volumes about this team. We have been doing this all year, but now we are seeing the fruits of the labor," said Lange.
Colgate jumped out to a 9-0 lead, but Navy rallied to tie the game at 20, before the two teams settled in for the remainder of the first half, tied at 32.
Navy came out blazing in the second half, outscoring Colgate 13-4 in the first three minutes of the half for its largest lead of the game, 45-36.
In the last three games, Navy has outscored its opponents out of halftime, 38-8, over the first three-plus minutes of each game.
Colgate would battle back, using a 14-2 run to grab a 50-47 advantage with 10:54 to play. Navy would go back ahead, holding a 61-58 advantage with 4:18 to play, but would score just one point over the last four-plus minutes and the Mids withstood a late three-point try by Rolls at the buzzer to head into the first overtime tied at 62.
In the first overtime session, Colgate would go up by four points twice, the last time coming at 68-64 with 3:10 left to play, but J.J. Avila (Fr. / McAllen, Texas) made a tough turn-around jumper and Wyatt hit two free throws with 1:52 left to tie the game at 68.
Navy had a chance to end the contest, but an Isaiah Roberts (Fr. / Pennsauken, N.J.) three-pointer was off the mark and the game went into a second overtime knotted at 68.
The Midshipmen held Colgate scoreless in the last three-plus minutes of the first overtime session.
Navy then took control in the second-overtime session, scoring the first seven points of the period for a 75-68 lead with 2:16 to play. The Raiders would trim the lead to 77-75 with 51 seconds left on a three-point play by Sterling Melville.
Greg Brown then had the play of the game for the Midshipmen after a missed three by Sugars with 15 seconds left. Brown hustled down the rebound while crashing into the Navy bench and saved it to Roberts, who called a timeout with 13 seconds left to keep the possession for Navy. Following the play, Brown hit two free throws for a 79-75 advantage with 10 seconds left.
Rolls hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to one at 79-78, but Sugars' two free throws with four seconds left gave Navy a three-point cushion and Rolls' last-second three-pointer was off the mark, giving the Midshipmen an 81-78 triumph.
Navy shot 25-of-59 (.424) from the field, 8-of-25 (.320) from three-point range and 23-of-28 (.821) from the free throw line. The Mids were 23-of-26 from the charity stripe after halftime. Navy was guilty of 15 turnovers, while forcing 27 Colgate mistakes. Navy was outrebounded, 47-28.
Colgate shot 25-of-60 (.417) from the field, 6-of-22 (.273) from three-point range and 22-of-30 (.733) from the free throw line.
Sugars led Navy with 22 points while shooting 7-of-13 from the field. Brown added 20 points, three rebounds, two assists and made all eight of his free throw attempts, while also going 5-of-9 from the field. Avworo tallied 13 points and four assists.
"Greg Brown played outstanding on offense, but the play of the game was when he ran down a rebound, crashed into our bench and saved the ball, keeping possession for us late. It's that play that exemplifies what Navy Basketball is all about," said Lange.
Nick Pascale led Colgate with 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead five Colgate players in double figures. Rolls had 15, Melville tallied 14, Mike Venezia had 13 and Yaw Gyawu had 12.
Navy will be back in action next Saturday, when it travels to league-leader Bucknell to begin the second half of Patriot League play. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 pm in Lewisburg, Pa.