Nov. 24, 2010
TOWSON, Md. -- Navy jumped out to a 22-point first half lead, then held off a Towson rally in the second half for its second victory of the season in an 89-84 decision over the Tigers. The win moves Navy's record to 2-5 overall, while Towson falls to 1-3.
Navy was playing its fourth game in six days after spending last weekend in Irvine, Calif., but showed no signs of fatigue early on. The Mids made their first nine shots of the contest, and 13 of their first 14, in jumping out to a 39-17 lead just 10 minutes into the contest. Navy would settle in for a 52-36 halftime lead while shooting 60.6 percent from the field, easily both season highs for single half.
"We have been getting great looks all year and now we are getting into a bit of a rhythm and the shots are starting to fall. Our team offense is probably not our priority right now. Our top priority right now is getting the guys to play at the level we need them to play, especially when you have a lot of freshmen in the rotation," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "It has taken a little bit of time. We haven't had a lot of practice time, but guys are starting to find its rhythm.
"We knew we weren't going to keep shooting like that in the second half and we knew they would make a run. They are a talented team so our goal was just to win the game in the second half," said Lange. "It would have been nicer to maintain that lead, but in the long run, this may really help our team, playing in a tight game like this. We showed great resolve in the second half and made a lot of key plays on both ends of the floor."
Towson came out strong in the second half, using an 11-2 run to cut the Navy lead to 54-47 with 16:57 to play. The Tigers would continue to chip away at the margin, getting the Navy margin down to 65-61 with 10:25 to play. Navy would still lead 72-68 with 6:00 to play, when Brennan Wyatt (Fr. / Greensboro, N.C.) connected on three free throws to push the margin to 75-68. Towson trimmed the margin back to 75-70, but Greg Brown (Sr. / Waldorf, Md.) buried a three from the corner for a 78-70 lead.
The Tigers wouldn't fold, trimming the margin to three at 80-77 with 1:25 to play. After getting a stop on the defensive end, Towson hurt itself with a pair of missed layup, and after Troy Franklin picked up his fourth foul, he would pick up his fifth on the same play with a technical foul. J.J. Avila
(Fr. / McAllen, Texas) would make all four free throws, pushing the lead back to 84-77 and the Mids would hit their free throws down the stretch for an 89-84 triumph.
The story of the game was the freshman Avila. The 6-7 forward scored a career-high 31 points, becoming just the third freshman in school history to score at least 30 points in a game. His 31 points are tied for the second most by a freshman in school history as he finished 9-of-13 from the field, 4-of-6 from three-point range and 9-of-9 from the free throw line. He would also finish with six rebounds, five steals and two assists.
"He's a beast. We are just trying to pull it out of J.J. He makes our team better, and the more experience he gets, the better he is going to get," said Lange. "I sent him a text message after our last game against Seattle U., saying that I believe in him and not to lose his swagger. As time goes on and he gets more mature, he is going to be a very good player for us."
"We had a lot of momentum in the first half and all the shots came in the rhythm of the offense," said Avila. "Coach Lange probably won't agree with me, but our trip to California really helped us. Just being together for five days and playing three games in three days made us a lot better team and we became much closer together on the court and off the court."
Greg Brown added 20 points, 15 of which came in the first half, on 7-of-15 shooting and 5-of-9 three-pointers. He would add six rebounds and three assists. Wyatt was the third Navy player in double-figures with a career-high 11 points with two assists in 19 minutes. Wyatt made 8-of-10 free throws.
Navy's freshmen continued their impressive start with 50 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and eight steals in 107 minutes of action.
As a team, Navy shot 27-of-60 (.450) from the field, 11-of-22 (.500) from three-point range and 24-of-34 (.706) from the free throw line. Navy was guilty of 15 turnovers, while turning the Tigers over 23 times. Towson did outrebound Navy, 43-31.
Navy returns home on Saturday night to face Maryland-Eastern Shore, beginning at 7:00 pm from Alumni Hall. It will be just the second home game of the season for the team. Tickets are available at Alumni Hall prior to the contest.
The win was Navy's second straight over Towson and improved the Mids to 4-7 all-time against the Tigers ... the win also gave Navy head coach Billy Lange his 83rd career victory, moving him into sixth place on the career victories list at Navy.
The victory snapped a nine-game losing streak dating back to last year in games away from Annapolis.
The 22-point lead in the first half was the largest lead for the Navy basketball program since leading Lafayette by 24 points on Feb. 14, 2009.
Navy turned 23 Towson turnovers into 21 points off turnovers ... Navy's bench also outscored Towson's, 49-17, and even outscored Navy's starters, 49-40.
Navy improved to 52-10 under Lange when shooting a higher percentage from the field than its opponent ... the Mids are also 52-11 when shooting more free throws than its opponent and are 45-18 when shooting over 42.0 percent from the field.
Navy's 45.0 percent shooting, 11 three-pointers, 18 assists, 24 free throws made and 89 points were season highs ... Navy shot over 60.0 percent in a half for the first time since Dec. 2, 2008, vs. Texas-San Antonio.
J.J. Avila's 31 points are tied for the second most by a freshman in school history ... Kevin Sinnett scored 34 against Penn State on Feb. 14, 1976, while Michael Heary scored 31 against Army on Jan. 21, 1995 ... Avila's performance was just the third 30-point game by a freshman in school history ... Avila went 9-of-9 from the free throw line and is now 14-of-14 from the free throw line this year ... Avila scored 18 of his points in the second half, accounting for almost half of Navy's 37 second-half points ... Avila's 31 points off the bench are the second most in school history, behind Greg Sprink's 34 against Brown on Dec. 22, 2005 ... Avila's five steals were the third most by a freshman in school history (Corey Johnson and Chris Williams - 6).
Greg Brown recorded his second career 20-point game and ninth career double-figure scoring game (4th this year) ... Brown's five three-pointers tied a career high.
Brennan Wyatt recorded his first career double-figure scoring game with 11 points in just 19 minutes.
Navy's freshmen scored 50 of Navy's 89 points, and have now scored 173 points in seven games (24.7 ppg) ... in fact with Sugars' injury tonight, only two classes scored for Navy tonight (Freshmen - 50; Seniors - 39).
CAREER HIGHS SET
Brennan Wyatt (Points -- 11; Steals -- 1)
James Loupos (Rebounds -- 4; Assists -- 2)
Greg Brown (Assists -- 3)
Thurgood Wynn (Rebounds -- 2; Steals -- 1)
Isaiah Roberts (Rebounds -- 3; Assists -- 4; Minutes -- 33)
J.J. Avila (Points -- 31; Steals -- 5; Minutes -- 31)
# GO NAVY #