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Buffalo Tops Navy in Home Opener, 63-53

Nov. 19, 2009

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Buffalo held Navy to just 30.8 percent from the field and outlasted the Mids, 63-53, in Navy's home opener on Thursday night at Alumni Hall. The loss drops Navy's record to 1-2 overall, while Buffalo improved to 1-1.

The loss snapped a nine-game home winning streak against non-conference foes and was the Mids' first against a non-conference foe since losing to Mount St. Mary's, 62-58, on Dec. 3, 2007.

"I think Buffalo wore us down with their physicality, particularly in the last part of the second half," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "We had plenty of opportunities that we didn't take advantage of. Thank goodness it's only the third game of the year. We have some things to work on."

For the third straight game, the Mids struggled from the field, connecting on just 20-of-65 shots from the field (.308). Navy was just 8-of-28 (.286) in the first half, and went 12-of-37 (.324) in the second half.

"I think we had good looks early on that we missed and we got a little frustrated," said Lange. "We definitely missed shots that we are capable of making. We really thought we could use the shot-fake tonight and I don't think we did that very well tonight. We just need to get in better rhythm. We'll make shots. It will turn itself around."

Navy is shooting just 34.7 percent from the field this year (67-of-193).

The game see-sawed back and forth in the first half, until Buffalo took the lead for good at 17-16 on a Rodney Pierce jumper with 6:05 to play in the opening stanza. Buffalo led at halftime despite committing 15 first-half turnovers.

Buffalo would take a 36-28 lead with 15:22 to play, but the Mids embarked on a 15-8 run to narrow the margin to 44-43 with 9:32 to play on a Mark Veazey tip-in.

The Bulls countered with five straight points and Navy could get no closer than three the rest of the way, as the Bulls went 8-of-10 down the stretch from the fee throw line to seal the game away.

The Mids made consecutive shots from the field just three times in the loss and three in a row once in the loss to the Bulls.

Chris Harris, the league's leading scorer, led Navy with 15 points, but went just 6-of-21 from the field and is now just 14-of-59 from the field (.237) this year. He is 7-of-31 (.226) from three-point range.

"He is obviously not shooting the ball well right now, but I don't think it's a concern yet. Shooters gotta shoot. I think he is just thinking about it some," said Lange. "He will get it turned around and I think that will turn around our offense. I'm not worried about it yet."

The Mids also struggled taking care of the ball with 18 turnovers. Nine of them came from Navy's two point guards in Chris Harris and O.J. Avworo.

"That is an area of concern. That is unacceptable from them," said Lange. "We have to get that fixed right now. There is no way that should happen with two point guards on the floor."

Besides Harris' 15 points, Romeo Garcia had 12 points (5-of-8 shooting) and eight rebounds, three steals, an assist and a block. Veazey had 10 points, while Jordan Sugars had nine points and seven rebounds. The Mids were 6-of-19 from three-point range, went 7-of-10 from the free throw line and was outrebounded, 46-37.

"They just did a good job on us physically," said Garcia. "We gave in on some plays and it cost us. We had lots of mental errors tonight, and at times we have had the passion and intensity, just not the focus. We just have to get them both on the same page."

Mitchell Watt led Buffalo with 13 points, Calvin Betts had 12 points and eight rebounds and John Boyer tallied 10. The Bulls shot 22-of-51 (.431) from the field, 3-of-13 (.231) from long distance and 16-of-25 (.640) from the free throw line. Buffalo was credited with 24 turnovers.

Navy will travel to the Big Apple on Satuday for a 7:00 pm tip at Long Island, the preseason second-place team in the Northeast Conference. Pete Medhurst will handle the call on WNAV (1430 AM), beginning at 6:45 pm.




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