Feb. 20, 2007
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- American placed four players in double figures and held off every Navy charge in the second half, dealing the Mids a 71-60 setback in the final home game at Alumni Hall. The loss drops Navy to 14-14 overall and 4-9 in the Patriot League. The loss also ended Navy's dreams of hosting a first-round Patriot League tournament game, as the Eagles clinched the fourth seed with the win.
"I could tell from the first possession of the game that our focus on our gameplan was absent," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "Our energy was decent, but we did very few things tonight that was in our gameplan. We missed some early shots, but that was no reason tonight. We wasted offensive possessions, rushed shots and just didn't do the little things that we need to do to win the game. It was disappointing to follow a great effort on Saturday with a performance like that tonight."
The two teams traded scores for the first 12 minutes of the game, but American closed the half on a 10-3 run over the last eight minutes to take a 27-18 lead at halftime.
The Eagles then opened the second half on an 11-2 run over the first four minutes to give American its largest lead of the game at 38-20 with 16:00 left. Navy buried back-to-back three-pointers to cut the lead to 38-28, but American answered with a 6-0 spurt to grab a 44-28 with 12 minutes to play.
The Eagles still led 58-42 with four minutes left, before Navy started a rally, cutting the lead to 58-48 on a Trey Stanton three-pointer with 3:30 to play. Navy would twice cut the lead to nine, but American connected on 11-of-14 free throws in the last three minutes to hold on for the 11-point win, 71-60.
Navy was led by junior guard Greg Sprink, who led all scorers with 23 points. Sprink, who was nursing a sore ankle and was questionable for tonight's game, was 6-of-11 from the field and 9-of-11 from the charity stripe. He added five rebounds and three assists. His 23 points gave him nine 20-point games this year and moved him into a 15th place tie with Vernon Butler (1984) on the single-season scoring list with 469 points.
"The ankle didn't really affect me once the game started," said Sprink. "It was sore during warm-ups, but once it got loose, it felt fine."
Freshman Trey Stanton added 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench. The Mids shot just 33.3 percent (19-of-57) from the field and was an icy 8-of-30 (.267) from three-point range. Amerian, meanwhile, shot 53.5 percent (23-of-43) from the field, including 61.1 percent (11-of-18) in the second half. American outrebounded the Mids, 38-29.
Lange says Navy wasn't focused on getting a home game for the upcoming Patriot League tournament, just on getting better every game.
"We're not concerned about that. Our main goal is to get better with every game," said Lange. "We have to focus on playing Navy basketball and tonight we didn't do that and it cost us. I am disappointed that we took a step back tonight."
The Mids will close out the regular season on Saturday at Colgate. With a win, Navy will likely finish fifth and will have to travel to American for a first-round game on Feb. 28. A loss could drop Navy anywhere from sixth to eighth, depending on the league's other games this week.
# GO NAVY #