Holy Cross Upsets Navy in the Patriot League Tournament
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - No. 6 Holy Cross (12-18) shot 67.6 percent from the floor to upset No. 3 Navy (20-12), 81-65, in a Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday night in Alumni Hall. Navy won 20 games for the first time in 18 years, but saw its season come to an early close in its first postseason game.
Holy Cross held a slim 32-31 halftime lead, but shot 73.7 percent in the second half (14-of-19) while outscoring the Mids 49-34 to take the 16-point road victory.
“I thought Holy Cross played great,” said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. “It seemed like they made every shot. Defensively, we weren’t very good. Any time a team shoots 73 percent in the second half and 67 for the game it means you weren’t very good defensively."
Holy Cross saw all five of its starters score in double figures, with Jehyve Floyd leading the way with 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Freshman Austin Butler added 18 points and was 7-of-9 from the floor.
Abdullah sparked Navy early as he hit three 3-pointers to put Navy ahead 13-5. Abdullah ended up scoring 13 of Navy’s first 15 points. Holy Cross responded with 12-2 run and took a 17-15 lead on a Patrick Benzan three-point play. Navy senior guard Nourse Fox chipped in with four early points and the teams stayed close for the remainder of the opening period before the Crusaders led by one at the break (32-31).
Holy Cross opened the second half on a 10-0 run to take a 42-31 lead, and the Midshipmen did not score a field goal for the first 6:51 before a Kiernan dunk. Holy Cross then scored the next five points to go up by 15 and Navy struggled to get back into the game.
Holy Cross led 64-59 with 4:26 remaining when Navy used a 7-0 run on a Shawn Anderson 3-pointer, Kiernan layup and a Lacey inside finish to cut the margin to eight points, but holy Cross made two free throws and then got a three-point play from Jacob Grandison to go up 13 (69-56) with 2:02 left. Senior Bryce Dulin made a layup and Kiernan hit another 3-pointer, but Navy could not close the gap as the Crusaders knocked down 15-of-17 free throws in the final 2:38 to seal the 81-65 win.
The 68 percent (25-of-37) that Holy Cross shot in the game was the highest by a Navy opponent this season.
Anderson will leave the Navy program tied with 1954 graduate Don Lange for 15th place on the Navy career scoring list with 1,344 points. Anderson also ranks fourth in career games played (125).
Lacey finishes his career with 611 rebounds, which is the 11th-most at Navy all-time. Abdullah’s 65 steals this season rank as the fourth-most in school history. Navy’s 20 wins are tied for the sixth-most in a season in Navy history.
Navy’s four-member senior class (Anderson, Dulin, Lacey and Fox) won 68 total games and 38 Patriot League games over the last four years.
“Our four seniors have been great for us,” said DeChellis. “They came in when we weren’t very healthy as a basketball program and they helped us become healthy and become relevant. I’m very, very appreciative of their effort, energy and toughness and what they’ve been through for Navy basketball.”
“It’s been such an enjoyable ride with these guys,” said Lacey. “The life of a basketball player is fleeting. The bonds you make with the coaches and the guys around you will really last forever. You work so hard with one goal in mind – to get to the NCAA Tournament. We’ve been through it all. Literally blood, sweat and tears. And ultimately we did not reach our goal, which is tough.
“Right now, talking about it, it’s easy to forget all the little things we’ve learned about toughness and determination. We learned so much along the way. We have relationships that will carry on for a long time. We learned so many life lessons through basketball, through the opportunity that Coach D gave us in coming here.”
“I feel bad for my seniors,” added DeChellis. “They’ve worked really hard and done some things that no one has done for a while here. They really wanted to get to the (NCAA) tournament and they won’t have another opportunity. I wanted that desperately for these seniors and it just didn’t happen.”