Nov. 15, 2009
FARMVILLE, Va. -- O.J. Avworo and Romeo Garcia each scored a career-high 16 points and Navy held off a spirited Longwood rally for a 79-76 victory on Sunday afternoon at Willett Hall.
The win evens Navy's record to 1-1 after falling to Radford on Friday night. Navy has now won all seven games in the series against Longwood, the Mids' longest active winning streak against one opponent.
"I'm proud of our guys. I thought we gave another passionate effort after playing very hard Friday night against Radford," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "It was a crazy game and that is how they wanted to play. They have a very athletic team, so to get a win when our two go-to-guys (Chris Harris, Mark Veazey) are 3-of-22 is a testament to how hard we are playing. We have a passion here that echoes where we were at the end of our first season with Taj Mathews, George O'Garro, Leonard Green and Matt Fannin. They played very hard with a lot of passion and this team rivals them. We obviously have a lot of things to work on, but it's good to get the first win under our belts."
Avworo carried the Mids in the second half, scoring 10 of his career-high 16 points in the final 20 minutes. Avworo finished 5-of-8 from the field with three assists. Avworo, however, went just 6-of-17 from the free-throw line, including 1-of-4 in the final minute of the game.
"That (free throw shooting) is a concern of ours. At the same point, I like to see him be aggressive and put pressure on the defense," said Lange. "He had a great second half breaking them down and getting to the hoop and really carried us offensively in the final 20 minutes."
While Avworo carried the Mids in the second half, Romeo Garcia
carried the Mids in the first half. Garcia scored 10 of his career-best 16 points in the first half and finished the game 4-of-6 from the field, 2-of-2 from three-point range and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Garcia has now surpassed his career high in each of the last two games and is averaging 14.5 ppg and 8.0 rpg while shooting 60.0 percent (9-of-15) from the field in the first two games.
Longwood jumped out to a 7-0 and 19-11 lead eight minutes into the game, when Navy started to chip away, taking its first lead of the game on a Garcia jumper at 27-25 with 4:42 to play.
Navy still led 40-33 and had a chance for the last possession of the half, but turned the ball over three straight times, allowing Longwood to cut the halftime lead to 40-37.
Navy then came out firing in the second half, taking its largest lead of the game at 56-43 with 11:43 to play on a Jordan Sugars lay-up. Longwood would get within six at 73-67 with 1:03 to play, but Navy would push the lead to 76-67 with 53 seconds left, setting up a wild last minute of play.
In the last 53 seconds, Navy would convert just three-of-six free throws and turn the ball over three times allowing Longwood to stay in the game. Longwood's Antwan Carter cut the lead to one possession, as close as the Lancers would get, with a layup with 0.5 seconds left, but Navy inbounded the ball and ran out the clock for the three-point victory.
"I was not pleased with the last minute of both halves, obviously," said Lange. "We had chances to increase the lead in both situations and panicked some. That is a source of pride for us, so we need to tighten that up some."
Navy shot 23-of-54 (.426) from the field, but was just 10-of-28 (.357) in the second half after starting 13-of-26 (.500) in the first half. Navy was 7-of-17 (.412) from three-point range and 26-of-39 (.667) from the free throw line.
Longwood shot 26-of-64 (.406) from the field but was just 4-of-20 (.200) from three-point range. Longwood was 20-of-23 from the free throw line.
The Mids outrebounded Longwood, 41-35, and both teams had 19 turrnovers.
In addition to Avworo and Garcia, Jordan Sugars and Chris Harris were also in double-figures with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Sugars added eight rebounds and was 6-of-7 from the field. Harris, who was 1-of-14 from the field, added four assists and two steals and was 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Mark Veazey had five points, nine rebounds, four blocked shots and three assists in s fine floor game.
Dana Smith led Longwood with 22 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Aaron Mitchell added 16 points and five assists.
Navy will host Buffalo in its home opener on Thursday night, beginning at 7:00 pm at Alumni Hall. For ticket information, call 1-800-US4-NAVY.
# GO NAVY #