Mids Win Fifth Straight Star Game, 76-68
Feb. 17, 2007
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Greg Sprink scored 19 points, all in the second half, to lift Navy to a 76-68 victory over rival Army in front of the ninth-largest crowd in Alumni Hall history. With the win, the Mids retain possession of the Alumni Trophy given to the victor of the "Star Game" for the fifth straight year and 24th time in the last 27 years. Navy is now tied for fifth in the Patriot League with a 4-8 record and is 14-13 overall.
"It's a great win for our program and institution," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "I was really pleased with the way we bounced back after Thursday. We were embarrassed with our performance on Thursday and wanted to play well today. I am very proud of these guys."
Navy started slow, falling behind 9-5 at the first media timeout. However, the Mids regrouped and took control of the half with a 13-1 run over the next seven minutes to grab an 18-10 advantage with eight minutes to play. Navy would own a 29-26 lead at halftime, despite Sprink, who entered the game with a 16.4 ppg average, being held scoreless.
After Army tied the game at 35 with 15:18 to play, Navy would go on a methodical 25-15 run to take a 60-50 cushion with 5:02 to play. Army wouldn't quit and trimmed the Navy lead to five at 63-58.
But freshman Trey Stanton, who was 4-of-4 from three-point range, connected on a three-pointer to push the lead to eight. After Army's leading scorer, Jerell Brown, countered with a three-pointer to cut the lead to five again, Sprink connected on a trey with 1:28 to play to salt the game away.
Army did cut the lead to 72-68 with 23 seconds left, but Sprink connected on four free throws in the final 22 seconds to give Navy its 14th win of the year, 76-68.
The performance was much needed after a dismal performance against Holy Cross on Thursday. The Mids lost 68-40 and shot just 25.0 percent from the floor in that game.
"We felt that game was an aberration," said Lange. "We didn't even watch the film of that game and didn't talk about it. We just wanted to get out and play again."
Sprink said today's win was a total team effort.
"We moved the ball great today and knocked down open shots," said Sprink. "I think we showed a lot of growth today and can show a lot more. We have two games left to play and they are big games for us. We are going this win today and get back to work tomorrow."
Despite Sprink's struggles in the first half, sophomore guard Kaleo Kina said Navy was following its gameplan well.
"We stuck with the gameplan and got the job done today," said Kina, who scored 14 points with four rebounds, five assists and four steals in a fantastic all-around performance. "Last year, with Greg struggling, we may have folded. This year, we have more guys that can step up and make plays. Once all of us got going, it opened things up for Greg."
The Navy freshmen trio of Trey Stanton, Chris Harris and T.J. Topercer all played vital roles in helping Navy to the win. The trio combined for 23 points on 7-of-14 from the field (six three-pointers) with seven assists, four blocks and just three turnovers in 64 minutes. Harris hounded Army's Matt Bell all day. While Bell scored 16 points, Harris helped force him into nine turnovers.
"There is a lot of room for growth with these guys," said Lange. "They have improved so much this year and will only get better. For those guys to play this well with all these circumstances is a great testament to this team."
Sprink added five rebounds, four assists and two steals and was 11-of-14 from the free throw line. Stanton contributed 15 points and a career-high four blocks. The Mids shot 47.7 percent (21-of-44) from the field, including 12-of-24 (.500) from long distance. The Mids were 22-of-31 (.710) from the free throw line and recorded 17 assists on 21 made baskets. Navy also got outstanding production from its bench, scoring 26 points on 9-of-20 shooting, including 5-of-13 from three-point range.
The Mids, now winners of three of their last four games, will host American in a key Patriot League battle on Tuesday night at 7:00 pm in Alumni Hall. With a win against American and then next Saturday at Colgate, Navy would earn the Patriot League Tournament's fourth seed and host a first-round game on Wednesday, Feb. 28. For ticket information, please call 1-800-US4-NAVY.
# GO NAVY #