Feb. 5, 2010
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Romeo Garcia scored a career-high 20 points to lead four players in double figures, helping the Navy men's basketball team to an 81-79 victory in Alumni Hall on Friday night. The win was Navy's second in a row and improves the Mids' record to 11-12 overall and 5-3 in the Patriot League. Bucknell saw its three-game winning streak end, falling to 9-15 overall and 4-4 in league play.
Navy improved to 9-3 at home and is 4-1 in the Patriot League at Alumni Hall. Navy is now 21-6 at home in the last two years.
"First off, we want to thank our fans, cheerleaders and band that ventured out tonight," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "They created some environment tonight and we are very grateful for them to show up. We take pride in defending our home court, and the fans tonight were a part of it."
The two-point victory marks the third straight two-point win for Navy over Bucknell. The last five meetings, four Navy wins, have been decided by 11 total points, with four of the games being decided by one or two points. Navy has now swept the season series with Bucknell for two straight seasons.
"This was a great win for us. Bucknell had been playing as well as anyone in the league, so to come out and play well against them is very encouraging for us," said Lange. "The games have extra meaning now, so we just need to stay focused and play one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves. Our focus is just on improving and that's it."
Garcia led a balanced attack, netting a career-high 20 points with six rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal. Garcia was 7-of-12 from the field, connecting on a career-high five three-pointers. In the two games this year against Bucknell, Garcia went 11-of-16 from the field and 7-of-10 from three-point range, while averaging 15.0 ppg.
Chris Harris added 18 points, while O.J. Avworo had a career-high 17 points, while dishing out 10 assists for his second straight double-double. In the last two games, Avworo is averaging 15.5 ppg and 10.0 apg, while committing just three turnovers in wins over Colgate and Bucknell.
"O.J. is playing phenomenal. He is a very tough matchup right now," said Lange. "Teams have decided to lay off him, and he is showing he can hit the outside shot. If you get up on him and pressure him, he will drive around you and get in the lane. He took some time to get going, but he is showing what he can do."
"It's great having good balance. Coach Lange stresses ball movement and balanced scoring is a result of doing that," said Avworo. "When we move the ball, we force double-teams and get teams scrambling. It makes us tough to guard when we can move the ball.
"When we have great spacing like we did tonight, it allows me to get inside and make plays or make plays for other guys," added Avworo.
Jordan Sugars would also notch a double-double, his fifth of the season, with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sugars, who was battling a nasty flu for the past few days, was 5-of-10 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range, while adding four assists, one block and one steal, in 34 exhausting minutes.
The Mids trailed by one at halftime at 35-34, after leading by as much as 11 in the first half. The two teams would trade baskets for the first nine minutes of the second half. Bucknell would still lead, 57-56, with 11:16 to play, but Navy went on an 11-2 run to grab a 67-59 advantage with 7:10 to play.
Bucknell would cut the lead to 76-74 with 50 seconds left on a Bryson Johnson three-pointer, but Chris Harris connected on two free throws with 48 seconds left, and Bucknell would get no closer than three the rest of the way, until Johnson hit a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to cut the final margin to two points, 81-79.
"They are one of the best hurry-up, two-minute offense teams we have ever gone against, and they are a very tough team to guard, especially late in the game," said Lange. "I thought we guarded very well in the last 10 minutes of the game, and got out on their shooters better."
Navy stormed out of the gates early on, jumping out to a 12-5 lead on a Harris three-pointer with 16:01 to play. The Mids would increase the lead to 23-12 with 11:47 left, but the Bison answered with a 19-3 run over nearly eight minutes to grab their largest lead of the game at 31-26 with 3:59 left in the first half. Navy closed the half scoring eight of the last 12 points to cut the lead to one at the break.
The Mids shot 47.4 percent (27-of-57) from the field, but shot 55.6 percent (15-of-27) from the field in the second half. Navy shot 52.0 percent (13-of-25) from three-point range, but went just 14-of-25 (.560) from the free throw line. Over the last two games, Navy is 28-of-50 (.560) from three-point range. The Mids had 19 assists and a season-low nine turnovers.
"We have been clicking pretty well on the offensive end and it comes down to movement in almost every game," said Lange. "The guys understand the offense works when we have a good motor."
Bucknell shot 44.6 percent (29-of-65) from the field, 44.0 percent (11-of-25) from three-point range and 83.3 percent (10-of-12) from the free throw line. The Bison had 13 turnovers and outrebounded the Mids, 41-32. Bucknell had 24 second-chance points.
Johnson, a freshman, had 16 points to lead Bucknell, along with G.W. Boon. Freshmen Mike Muscala and Joe Willman had 16 and 12 points, respectively, while Darryl Shazier had 10 points and six assists.
Navy, now currently in third place by itself in the Patriot League standings one-half game behind league leaders Lehigh and Lafayette, travel to Lehigh on Wednesday night. The Mountain Hawks travel to American at 2:00 pm on Saturday.
# GO NAVY #