Men's Basketball Beats Army, 67-59, to Claim N-Star Victory
Feb. 7, 2015
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Sophomore guard Zach Fong poured in a career-high 24 points and senior forward Worth Smith was clutch down the stretch as the Navy men's basketball team (9-15, 5-7 PL) defeated Army (14-9, 5-7 PL), 67-59, to win a second straight Star Game and sweep the 2014-15 season series against its service academy rival.
Fong was 9-of-14 from the floor and 5-of-9 on 3-pointers for his 24 points, which came in a career-high 37 minutes. Fong scored 18 of his 24 points in the first half. Fong was filling in for injured starting guard Brandon Venturini. Smith had 14 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. Smith scored seven straight points for Navy down the stretch to help seal the win.
"Zach Fong kept us in the game in the first half," said head coach Ed DeChellis. "In the second half, Worth played very well. He made some really big shots in the last two minutes of the game. I'm really proud of our kids. Army took the lead and we grabbed it right back and held on to it and Worth made some big shots down the stretch to win the game."
Junior point guard Tilman Dunbar had a great all-around game with 16 points, five assists, three rebounds and steal, while junior center Will Kelly had five points, seven rebounds, four blocks and four steals.
Kelly got Navy going early with a big one-handed dunk and then Fong hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put Navy ahead, 10-4. The lead grew to 14-7 after buckets by Dunbar and sophomore center Edward Alade.
Army cut the lead to 14-13, but a 3-pointer and a jumper by Fong and two baskets from Dunbar pushed Navy's lead to eight at 23-15. Fong would hit another jumper and then a 3-pointer late in the half with an Army defender draping all over him to give Navy a 36-30 halftime lead.
Army would continue to battle and after cutting Navy's margin to one at 36-35, Dunbar hit a jumper, Kelly scored on a layup and then Dunbar hit two free throws to extend the lead to seven. Fong hit a jumper and another 3-pointer and senior guard Earl McLaurin drilled a 3-pointer, but Navy then went on a five-minute scoring drought that saw Army take a 52-50 lead with a 6-0 run.
Smith broke the run with a 3-pointer to set up a wild finish that saw the lead change seven times in the next five minutes. After Smith's 3-pointer, Army's Kyle Wilson answered with a jumper to retake the lead, but Navy took it right back on the next possession after a jumper by Dunbar.
Army would go up two after a Tanner Plomb and-1 play, but Navy got a free throw from Kelly and then a jumper from Smith to retake the lead briefly until Dylan Cox scored on a layup to give the Black Knights a 59-58 lead.
Smith hit a big 3-pointer to put Navy ahead by two and then hit another jumper two possessions later to give Navy a four-point lead with his seventh straight point. Army missed on the other end and Dunbar grabbed the defensive rebound and later made both free throws after being fouled.
Wilson missed on the other end and Smith flew in to grab the defensive rebound. Fong then knocked down one of two free throws. Army missed another 3-pointer and it was then freshman Shawn Anderson who hit a free throw to send the game to its 67-59 final.
Navy was 8-of-18 on 3-pointers (44 percent), while Army was just 5-of-24 (21 percent).
Navy scored 21 points off of Army's 19 turnovers.
Navy matches its overall win total from last season (9), while its five conference wins are the most since the 2011 season.
Navy improves to 75-47 in the all-time series against Army.
The crowd of 6,110 fans was the second-highest total in Alumni Hall history.
The Mids will next host Bucknell on Wednesday at 7 PM.