Navy Men's Basketball Defeats Army for the N-Star, 79-57
Feb. 8, 2014
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Navy men's basketball team (8-15, 3-9 PL) won the N-Star with a convincing 79-57 victory over Army (12-11, 8-4 PL) on Saturday at Christl Arena. Junior forward Worth Smith's game-high 23 points and eight rebounds paced three Midshipmen in double figures.
"The kids did a great job and I'm really proud of them," head coach Ed DeChellis said. "Army's a good basketball team and Zach [Spiker] has done a wonderful job with his program. We feel very fortunate to be able to come in here and make plays as well as we did and get a win."
Navy stretched out a four-point halftime lead by outscoring the hosts 42-24 in the second half while shooting 63 percent (17-of-27). Smith was 7-of-10 in the second half with 17 points.
Navy's 79 points were the most scored by the Mids in their last 10 games.
"We got some early baskets in the game and got some easy layups that got us going a little bit," said DeChellis. "We were able to make some shots from the perimeter and we played pretty good defense."
Sophomore guard Kendall Knorr tallied 17 points, a career-best eight assists, five rebounds and two steals. Junior forward Brandon Venturini had 12 points, a career-best eight assists, three rebounds and three steals.
Sophomore center Will Kelly had a great all-around game with six points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and one steal. Junior point guard Earl McLaurin set career-highs in points (9) and three pointers made (3).
Army took a 3-0 lead in the game but the Mids responded right away with a three pointer by Knorr. After a pair of free throws by Smith and another bucket by Knorr, Venturini hit back-to-back three pointers for a 10-1 Navy run and a 13-4 early lead.
Army was able to chip away at Navy's lead and tied the game at 30-30 with three minutes to go in the first half. A three pointer by freshman guard Tim Abruzzo and a dunk by Kelly gave Navy a 37-34 lead at halftime.
Army cut the lead to three at 39-36 before Navy reeled off a 20-3 run to take a 20-point lead at 59-39. McLaurin drilled a three and then Smith scored seven straight points on two layups and a three pointer. Navy punctuated a 12-0 spurt during the 20-3 overall run when Venturini's fast break layup attempt was called good after Army goaltended.
Knorr was able to pressure a long in-bounds pass back to halfcourt and came up with the steal then drove to the basket and converted his and-one opportunity after being fouled. Freshman Edward Alade then capped off the 20-3 run with a two-hand jam.
After Navy got its big lead, the Mids made enough big shots down the stretch, while also keeping Army's offense at bay.
After a Kelly blocked shot, Venturini got free for a fast break layup. Navy then pushed a 15-point lead to 26, its largest of the game, with a 9-0 run. Knorr and McLaurin hit back-to-back three pointers and then Smith had a dunk off a back-door cut. McLaurin capped off the run by hitting his third three pointer of the night.
With just under three minutes to go, Smith was fouled after making a reverse layup for a three-point play and then Knorr's fast break layup after a Venturini steal capped the scoring in the 79-57 win.
Navy shot 52.6 percent from the floor in the game (30-of-57) and set an Army-Navy game record by shooting 55 percent on three pointers (11-of-20).
Tanner Plomb led Army with 17 points and Dylan Cox had 10.
Defensively, Navy held Army to 18 points below its season average and a 38 percent shooting (18-of-47).
"I thought defensively we were pretty good," DeChellis said. "We've always had a pretty good defensive game plan against Army, we just haven't been able to score enough points."
Navy scored 23 points off of Army's 17 turnovers and had 30 points in the paint. Navy outrebounded Army, 34-26, and collected 10 offensive rebounds.
Navy will next play at Bucknell on Wednesday at 7:00 PM.
Notes: The 22-point margin is the largest for Navy in the Star Series since 1999 (25) ... Navy extends its Star Series lead to 54-37 and snaps a two-game losing streak to Army in Star Games ... Navy's three conference wins are the most since the 2011 season ... the Mids won their first road game since a 68-50 win at Binghamton on November 16 ... the win snapped a six-game Navy losing streak ... Navy's 23 assists were the most against a Division I opponent this season ... Navy's 37 points in the first half were the most since scoring 41 against The Citadel on December 4 ... Smith moved into 35th place on Navy's all-time scoring list with 777 career points ... the game was televised by CBS SN.