Feb. 18, 2009
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Holy Cross rallied from a 12-point second half deficit to hand the Navy men's basketball team a 74-69 setback on Wednesday night. The loss drops Navy to 17-9 overall and 6-5 in the Patriot League standings, while Holy Cross improved to 14-12 overall and 9-2 in the Patriot League.
Navy sits in third place in the league standings at 6-5, one game ahead of Lehigh, who defeated Colgate, 49-40, on Wednesday night.
Navy led 48-36 with 17:17 to play in the second half after opening the final frame on a 10-3 run, before Holy Cross outscored the Mids, 38-21, in the final 17 minutes to pull out the five-point victory.
"When we were up 12, I felt they were rattled a little bit, and you got to try and put it away at that point," said Navy head coach Billy Lange, who was coaching his 200th career game. "I thought our offense kind of gave the game away a little bit. It didn't happen right away, but our offense wasn't as effective and sharp the last 15 minutes as it was in the first part of the game."
After Holy Cross pulled to within one at 51-50 with 11:47 to play, the Mids went back up by six at 56-50 just 18 seconds later after two free throws and Adam Teague's fifth three-pointer of the contest.
The game would see-saw back and forth, but the Crusaders took the lead for good on an Alex Vander Baan three-pointer for a 66-63 lead with 5:51 to play. Navy would cut the lead to one on two separate occasions, the last coming at 70-69, but Romeo Garcia missed a short jumper in the lane, and Vander Baan would connect on two free throws at the other end with 26 seconds left and Andrew Beinert iced the game away with two free throws with 16 seconds left following a Navy turnover for the 74-69 decision.
"It was a great game and a great game for the Patriot League," said Lange. "It was a game of wills. We imposed our will for a majority of the game, but we didn't impose it down the stretch when they did, and they were able to get some easy baskets and get to the foul line. We kind of lost our composure and lost our way offensively."
Holy Cross took a 4-0 lead early on, but the Mids responded with a 14-1 over the next three-plus minutes to grab a 14-5 lead. The Crusaders responded with a 9-0 run of their own to tie the game at 14 with 10:37 to play. After Holy Cross went up 19-18 on a Beinert three-pointer, Navy went on a 13-5 spurt to grab a 31-24 cushion with 4:13 to play. The lead would stay between four and seven for the rest of the half and Navy settled in for a 38-33 halftime lead.
The Mids shot 24-of-60 (.400) from the field, but was just 6-of-28 (.214) in the game's last 16 minutes. Navy was 7-of-20 (.350) from three-point range and 14-of-17 (.824) from the free throw line. The Mids had just 13 turnovers and recorded a remarkable 15 steals. Navy was outrebounded 34-28.
Adam Teague and Chris Harris led Navy with 17 points, while Kaleo Kina nearly recorded yet another triple-double with 16 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals. O.J. Avworo had four points, five assists and five steals.
Lange also welcomed back sophomore guard Romeo Garcia to the lineup, after missing all but seven games with a pulled hamstring. Garcia played 18 minutes, scoring two points with two rebounds.
"It's great to have Romeo back. We are very happy for him, and he is a big part of what we want to do down the stretch," said Lange. "We have to work him back in the lineup and he was effective tonight when he was on the floor. He adds some depth for our team, and hopefully he can continue to stay healthy.
Holy Cross, meanwhile, shot 27-of-47 (.574) from the field, including 14-of-23 (.609) in the second half. The Crusaders were 4-of-10 (.400) from the three-point arc and 16-of-22 (.727) from the free throw line.
Freshman R.J. Evans scored all 17 of his points in the second half. Colin Cunningham added 12 points and Andrew Keister, who had 27 points and 14 rebounds in the first meeting, scored 10 points with six rebounds and five assists.
Navy hosts Army in the annual Star Game on Saturday, beginning at 1:00 pm in Alumni Hall. The game will be broadcast by CBS with Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel calling the action. For ticket information, call 1-800-US4-NAVY.
# GO NAVY #