Feb. 25, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Garrison Carr hit two free throws with 28 seconds left to lift American to a 64-59 victory over Navy at Bender Arena on Wednesday night. The loss drops Navy's overall record to 18-10 and to 7-6 in the Patriot League standings. American won its ninth straight game and improved to 20-7 overall and 12-1 in the Patriot League.
However, with losses by Colgate and Lehigh on Wednesday night, Navy will finish third in the Patriot League standings and will host a Patriot League Quarterfinal game next Wednesday night (March 4) at Alumni Hall against a foe to be determined.
Navy led the Eagles 56-53 with just over three minutes to play, when American's Nick Hendra scored five straight points for a 58-56 AU advantage with 2:05 to play. However, Adam Teague drilled his fifth three-pointer of the night to give the Mids a 59-58 lead with 1:54 to play.
After getting a stop on the defensive end, Navy's Kaleo Kina missed a jumper with 48 seconds left. American grabbed the rebound and Carr was fouled on a drive to the hoop with 28 seconds left. Carr calmly drilled both free throws to give American a 60-59 lead.
The Mids then got a good look on the next possession by Kina, who appeared to get fouled on the play. Kina's shot glanced off the rim and Carr would convert two more free throws with 19 seconds left for a three-point advantage.
Nick Hendra would tally two more free throws with four seconds left for the final margin.
"It was two good teams going at each other, and obviously, the free throws down the stretch were the difference," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "We gave the ball to our best player down the stretch and we tried to draw contact. Kaleo went to the basket hard. They gave the ball to their best player and he made his free throws."
Navy struggled from the outset against the Eagles, falling behind 21-9 with 11:56 on a three-pointer by Brian Gilmore. American would still lead 34-22 with 5:44 to play, but Navy ended the half on an 11-2 run to trail at the halftime break, 36-33.
American again come out hot in the second half, jumping out to a 43-35 advantage on another Gilmore three-pointer with 17:26 to play, but Navy would then clamp down defensively and subsequently, cut into the lead.
A Kina three-pointer would cut the AU lead to one at 48-47 with 8:45 to play. Kina would give Navy its first lead (49-48) since 2-0 on a jumper with 7:23 with play. Carr and Teague traded three-pointers and freshman Jordan Sugars would give Navy its largest lead at 56-53 on a jumphook in the lane with 4:06 to play, setting up American's rally.
Navy got back into the game thanks to its defense. After American shot 13-of-27 (.481) from the field in the first half, the Eagles made just 8-of-28 (.286) shots in the second half, including just 2-of-9 (.222) from three-point range after going 7-of-13 (.538) in the first half from long distance.
However, American outscored Navy at the line, 13-5, for the difference in the game. Navy was whistled for 18 fouls, while American, which had five fouls in the game's first 29 minutes, finished with 10.
"I don't want to take anything away from our guys. I thought we played pretty well," said Lange. "We played with more energy after the first 13 minutes and started buckling down. We played good enough defense on the road against the team that is leading the league in field goal percentage. That is what the playoffs are going to be like.
"I feel more confident now going into next week than I did last year," said Lange, whose squad finished second last year in the Patriot League race. "I know we can get stops defensively. We just have to execute a little better offensively, but I feel very good about this team right now."
Navy could play as many as five other teams as only seeds one (American), two (Holy Cross) and three (Navy) have been determined through Wednesday night's action. The opponent for the first round doesn't matter to Lange.
"I'm not concerned about that. I am concerned about our team and how we play," said Lange. "It's nice for this program to be considered in and finish in the upper-echelon of the league, but when it comes down to next Wednesday, that doesn't really matter."
The Mids shot 47.1 percent (24-of-51) from the field and 33.3 percent (6-of-18) from three-point range. Navy had 15 turnovers and was outrebounded, 35-31.
Kaleo Kina had 19 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals to lead Navy. Teague tied a career high with 19 points and added six rebounds and two blocked shots. Sugars provided a defensive spark off the bench for Navy, scoring two points with a career-high eight rebounds and a blocked shot in a career-high 23 minutes.
American shot 38.2 percent (21-of-55) from the field and shot 40.9 percent (9-of-22) from three-point range. American converted on 72.2 percent (13-of-18) from the free throw line. Carr led AU with 20 points, while Derrick Mercer and Hendra added 11.
Navy will close out the regular season on Saturday night at Alumni Hall against Colgate, beginning at 7:00 pm. Navy's four seniors (Brian Richards, Kaleo Kina, Clif Colbert and Adam Teague) will be honored before the game. For ticket information for both Saturday's game and the Patriot League Tournament Quarterfinals, call 1-800-US4-NAVY.
# GO NAVY #