Feb. 24, 2010
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- American scored the last eight points of the game, handing the Navy men's basketball team an 80-77 double-overtime setback in front of 3,528 fans at Alumni Hall on Wednesday night. The loss drops Navy's record to 13-15 overall and to 7-6 in the Patriot League, while American improves to 9-19 and 6-7 in the league standings.
The loss drops Navy into fourth place in the league standings, and means Navy will have to either win at Colgate on Saturday or American will have to lose at home to Lafayette, for the Mids to capture a home quarterfinals game in the Patriot League Tournament.
"It was a tremendous game, and I am proud of the way we battled," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "We are not capable of blowing teams out, and we have won a lot of games like this in the past, and lost some in the past like this. However, the defense we played in the second half tonight was as good of defense that this program has played in the last three years. I was very pleased with that."
Navy took a 77-72 lead two minutes into the second extra session, but did not score the rest of the way. Lange was forced to use a lineup of Jordan Sugars, Ted Connolly, Carlton Smith, Romeo Garcia and Greg Brown down the stretch as Navy regulars Chris Harris, O.J. Avworo and T.J. Topercer had fouled out already. It was a combination that had not seen any time together this year.
"You just can't plan for that situation," said Lange. "You don't anticipate having to go with that and you don't want to tinker late in the year with line-ups. I thought the group played hard, but we just didn't make the plays late."
The Eagles took the lead for good on a Vlad Moldoveanu lay-up with 15 seconds left, then went up three on a pair of Daniel Munoz free throws with seven seconds left. A Sugars' three-pointer from 35 feet was off the mark, and the Mids suffered just their second loss this year by three or fewer points.
The fact the game got into the second overtime is remarkable in itself. Navy's Sugars scored on a nearly-impossible shot with 1.5 seconds left in the first overtime, but American's picked up a deflection and released a running leaner just before the horn sounded to tie the game at 72 and send the contest into a second overtime.
Navy was forced to rally from a 62-58 deficit with 1:39 to play just to force the first overtime. The Mids cut it two two at 62-60 on a pair of Harris free throws. The Eagles would go up 63-60, but O.J. Avworo converted on a three-point play with 20.6 seconds left and the Navy defense came up huge late to send the game into overtime/
The Mids would grab their largest lead of the game at 58-50 with just over five minutes to play, before American went on a 12-0 spurt to grab its four-point advantage with just under two to play.
Navy trailed 38-30 at halftime, and after American scored the first four points of the second half to take its largest lead of the game at 42-30, Navy countered with a 28-8 spurt to go up 58-50. Harris and Sugars combined for 20 of Navy's 28 points during the spurt.
Chris Harris paced Navy with 30 points for his fifth 30-point game of the season. He finished 11-of-22 from the field and 3-of-6 from three-point range, but fouled out late in e first overtime after playing 43 minutes.
"It's disappointing to foul out in crunch time, especially on Senior Night," said Harris. "I would have given anything to be out there at the end. I guess I have a fouling issue that I have to get fixed here late in the season."
Harris did move into fifth place on the school's career scoring list with 1,597 points, moving past Michael Heary's 1,590 points.
Jordan Sugars, meanwhile had 25 points, including six three-pointers, and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Sugars now has 442 points and 229 rebounds, becoming just the sixth player, and the third sophomore, in school history with 400 points and 225 rebounds in a season.
Stephen Lumpkins led American with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Moldoveanu had 19 points. Moldoveanu went just 4-of-15 from the field, but went 10-of-11 from the free throw line, after torching the Mids for 37 in the first meeting.
"I thought we did a great job on him tonight, but he hurt us from the free throw line," said Lange. "We learned a lot and that if we can defend for 40 minutes like we did in the second half, we will be in position to win three games in March."
Navy will close out the regular-season on Saturday at Colgate, beginning at 4:00 pm in Hamilton, N.Y. Pete Medhurst will handle the call on WNAV (1430 AM), beginning at 3:45 pm.
# GO NAVY #