ANNAPOLIS, Md. --Jordan Sugars scored 25 points to become the 20th player in school history to score 1,000 career points and the Navy men's basektball team sent its four seniors out on a high note by running past Colgate, 75-55, in front of 4,039 fans at Alumni Hall on Saturday afternoon.
The crowd of 4,039 was the fifth-highest non-Army crowd in Alumni Hall history and allowed the Mids to set an average attendance record at Alumni Hall by averaging 2,397 fans in 13 home games this winter.
The win in the regular-season finale improved Navy's record to 11-19 overall and the Mids finished with a 6-8 Patriot League mark, good for a fourth-place tie in the final league standings. Colgate fell to 7-22 and 4-10 in the Patriot League.
Combined with results from other games around the league on Saturday, fifth-seeded Navy will head to fourth-seeded Lehigh for Wednesday night's Patriot League Quarterfinal.
Navy never trailed in sweeping the season series against Colgate for the second time in the last three years. The 20-point win was the largest victory for the Midshipmen since a 90-67 win over Lafayette on Feb. 14, 2009.
Navy's senior class improved to 59-61 during their career, but finished the Patriot League with a 30-26 league record and as one of two teams (American) to finish fourth or better in the league standings in each of the last four years.
"Our senior class has been phenomenal and the way they played tonight was great. They did a lot of little things tonight as they have done their whole career. Romeo's (Garcia) defense on Yaw Gwayu was terrific. Mark Veazey gave us a huge spark with the steal and dunk. O.J's (Avworo) floor game was tremendous and Greg Brown's energy at the beginning was huge for us," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "I just can't say enough about what the seniors have done this year to lead this team. Our record does not indicate the work they have done not only this year, but in the past and for future seasons. I am thrilled we were able to send them out in their final home game on a high note."
Navy busted out of the gates strong making its first six shots en route to an 18-3 lead just three-minutes and 25-seconds into the game. Navy, however, missed its next 17 shots from the field as Colgate used a 12-0 run to whittle the margin to 18-15. Navy responded and would lead 31-24 at the halftime break.
"The energy and emotion on senior night can work for you or against you," said Lange. "It obviously worked well for us tonight."
After Colgate cut the lead to five at 33-28, the Mids went on an 23-6 run to grab a 56-34 lead with 9:35 to play on a Romeo Garcia (Sr. / Cypress, Texas) three-point play. Navy would lead by as many as 25 (71-46) before coasting down the stretch for the 20-point victory.
After shooting just 9-of-31 (.290) from the field in the first half, Navy responded by making 16-of-26 (.615) shots in the second half to outscore the Raiders, 44-31, in the final 20 minutes.
"We really moved the ball great in the second half," said Lange. "We got set and situated and made great decisions. To have 17 assists on 25 field goals is very good and to have only nine turnovers showed we did a lot of things right on offense."
Sugars, a junior from Winchester, Va., scored his 1,000th career point on a breakaway layup in the second half and finished the contest with 25 points, giving him 1,004 for his career. He is just the seventh player in school history to reach 1,000 points during his junior season. He finished the game 9-of-13 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range, while added four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Sugars did not practice at all on Friday and sparingly on Thursday while suffering from the flu, but played 37 inspired minutes on Saturday against the Raiders.
"It means the world to me to send these guys out with a win. We had a talk last night as a team and it was very emotional. I poured my heart out and told them I felt I should be graduating with this class," said Sugars. "They brought me in and embraced me and O.J. has been taking care of me since day one. He is like a brother to me. I love being around them and we wanted to do this for them. We want to keep playing for them."
"It feels great to go out with a win on senior day. Knowing that this could be my last time playing at Alumni Hall, and winning for all the fans that have been here every single game and for those that have shown us support makes it even better. I loved playing in Alumni Hall. This feels like my family. Every single year, we have seen our crowds get better and there are a lot of people to thank for that," said senior O.J. Avworo. "I would like to believe that its up to the fans to come to games and that they enjoyed watching how hard we played. It's great for the program to go out in such a good way in front of all these people. I couldn't ask for anything more."
For the game, Navy shot 25-of-57 (.439) from the field, 9-of-23 (.391) from three-point range and 16-of-17 (.941) from the free throw line. Navy had just nine turnovers while being outrebounded, 35-27.
Colgate, meanwhile, shot just 17-of-44 (.386) from the field, 4-of-16 (.250) from three-point range and 17-of-23 (.739) from the free throw line. The Raiders were guilty of 22 turnovers, resulting in 22 points off turnovers for Navy.
In addition to Sugars' 25 points, J.J. Avila (Fr. / McAllen, Texas) added 12 points, five assists, three rebounds and one block in a fine all-around game. Avila connected on 4-of-6 from three-point range and held Nick Pascale, who scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the first meeting, to just two points in 23 minutes of action.
Greg Brown (Sr. / Waldorf, Md.) added 12 points with a career-high four steals, while Avworo contributed 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Yaw Gyawu led Colgate with 12 points, while Mitch Rolls and Joe Hoban had 10 each.
Navy will travel to Lehigh for Wednesday night's Patriot League Quarterfinal round. The game will be aired by WNAV (1430 AM) and will be streamed online on Navy and Patriot League All-Access. The game will likely start at 7:00 pm.