ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- J.J. Avila scored 19 points and Jordan Sugars connected on a huge three-pointer late in the contest to lift the Navy men's basketball team to a 64-56 victory over Mount St. Mary's on Sunday night in Alumni Hall.
The victory improves Navy's record to 3-4 overall while Mount St. Mary's dropped to 1-4 overall. The win snapped a four-game losing streak and improved the Mids to 2-1 at Alumni Hall.
Navy held a tenuous three-point lead at 57-54 after Mount St. Mary's Chad Holley buried a three-pointer with 3:08 to play. On Navy's next possession, Jordan Sugars (Sr. / Winchester, Va.) caught the ball in rhythm off a screen and connected on his third three-pointer of the game for a 60-54 lead with 2:34 left to play. The Midshipmen were then able to make all four free throw attempts in the final minute for the final margin.
"The shot Jordan hit was obviously a huge shot for us. We had turned it over three straight times prior to that and he came up with a big play for us," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "As a senior, you are hoping that he steps up and makes a big play like that when you need it."
After a fairly even first eight minutes where the two teams were tied at 14, the Midshipmen rattled off an 11-0 run over a six-minute span that featured four points by freshman Worth Smith (Charlotte, N.C.), including a thunderous tip dunk off a J.J. Avila (So. / McAllen, Texas) missed jumper.
Navy would lead by as many as 13 (34-21) before settling in for a 34-25 halftime advantage.
Navy took its largest lead of the game at 43-29 on a Sugars three-pointer, but the Mountaineers used a 10-2 run of their own fueled by Navy turnovers to cut the margin to 45-39 with 12:50 to play. Navy would again eventually take another 12-point lead at 57-45 with 6:22 to play on a pair of Sugars' free throws, but the Mount countered with a 9-0 run over three minutes to trim the Navy lead to 57-54, before Sugars' three-pointer pushed the lead back to six at 60-54.
Navy played well in the first half shooting 46.7 percent from the field and committing just five turnovers in the opening 20 minutes. However, Navy had 11 turnovers in the second half, resulting in 14 points off turnovers for the Mountaineers, allowing Mount St. Mary's to get back in the game.
"Somewhere along the way, we have to figure out how to take care of the ball. We just throw the ball away and that has been our Achilles heel over the first seven games," said DeChellis. "Once we figure that out and learn to value each possession, the turnovers will decrease."
"Besides turning the ball over in the second half, I think we played a really strong game. We executed on both ends. Things are coming together and we need to make sure we continue to take a step forward and not regress backwards," said Sugars. "When we do things that we are supposed to do, you can see the results. We sometimes need to slow the game down and relax. It felt like it started to come together on both ends somewhat tonight."
Navy shot 22-of-48 (.458) from the field, 6-of-13 (.462) from three-point range and 14-of-18 (.778) from the free throw line. The Mids were guilty of 16 turnovers and outrebounded Mount St. Mary's, 29-25. Mount St. Mary's shot 20-of-43 (.465) from the field, 5-of-14 (.357) from three-point range and 11-of-14 (.786) from the free throw line. The Mountaineers were guilty of 20 turnovers.
Avila led Navy with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting with three assists and three steals. Sugars recorded his seventh career double-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. He moved into 19th place on both the career points and rebounds list and scored his 1,100th career point in the win.
Thurgood Wynn (So. / Bethesda, Md.) scored a career high 12 points with three assists while making his first career start in place of Isaiah Roberts (So. / Pennsauken, N.J.), who was sick with the flu all day and was limited to just 11 minutes off the bench. Worth Smith scored a career-high 11 points with seven rebounds, two blocks an assist and a steal.
"Thurgood Wynn and Worth Smith played very well, making their first starts. We got a lot of mileage out of Worth tonight and it was good to see them both step up," said DeChellis. "Worth can score and can rebound. He can make some plays that you can't teach. I don't know the last time this program had a tip dunk, but you can't teach that. He can make some plays that some other guys can't do. He has the intangibles you want. It was nice to see. He is a great kid, has worked hard and he played well."
Kelvin Parker led Mount St. Mary's with 14 points.
Navy returns to the road for its next two games, taking on Maryland-Eastern Shore on Wednesday night in Princess Anne, Md., beginning at 7:00 pm, before heading to Elon on Saturday afternoon.
Navy was starting its fourth different lineup in seven games this year as Worth Smith and Thurgood Wynn earned their first career starts ... Navy improved to 9-6 all-time against Mount St. Mary's and Ed DeChellis is now 4-0 against Mount St. Mary's and 16-1 all-time against the Northast Conference ... Jordan Sugars recorded his seventh career double-double and first since Feb. 24, 2010 ... Sugars scored his 1,100th career point and now ranks 19th on both the career points (1,100) and career rebounds (530) list ... Navy has held five of its seven opponents to 69 or fewer points this year ... Navy's bench scored just two points tonight ... Thurgood Wynn (12) and Worth Smith (11) each recorded career highs in points ... Navy has had 18 straight games with at least five three-pointers ... Navy's 13 three-point attempts were the fewest since having 11 against Texas-San Antonio on Dec. 2, 2008 ... Navy held a 30-24 points in the paint advantage and now has outscored five-of-seven opponents in the paint this year ... J.J. Avila has had at least two assists in nine straight games dating back to last year ... the victory was No. 1,298 in school history and the 175th in Alumni Hall history.