Mids Breeze Past William & Mary, 79-63
Nov. 28, 2006
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy men's basketball team jumped out to a 10-point halftime lead, then stretched the lead to as much as 25 points in the second half and coasted in for a 79-63 victory over William & Mary on Monday night at Alumni Hall. The win improves Navy's record to 5-2 overall and drops the Tribe to 1-3.
The victory gives Navy five wins on the earliest date in school history, topping the previous best of Dec. 3, in the 1983-84 season.
"Tonight was definitely our most consistent defensive effort of the year," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "Our defense tonight helped fuel some easy baskets for us in some key stretches. We know we can get better, but we executed well tonight, except for the last five minutes. We are pleased with where we are at, but we still have a lot of work to do."
The Mids jumped out early, holding a double-digit lead for the majority of the first half. Sophomore guard Kaleo Kina keyed Navy's hot start, scoring the Mids' first nine points of the game, as Navy took a 20-8 lead eight minutes into the contest.
The first half lead grew to 14 on two different occasions, before William & Mary crawled to within 10 at 38-28 at halftime.
Kina said the fast start helped set the tone for the entire game.
"We try to come out early with a lot of intensity on the defensive end, and tonight we did that," said Kina, who was playing just three days after suffering a hard fall against Villanova that forced him to sit out the last six minutes of that game. "We jumped out strong at the start and enabled us to get out fast and set the tone."
"Kaleo is a warrior for us. We knew he would come out and play well after Saturday," said Lange. "He plays with a lot of heart and passion and plays with such a great, competitive spirit. He does a little bit of everything for us, and tonight he was able to score for us. He is a good basketball player that is still learning how to play. When he does that, he will be a very, very good player for us."
Navy opened the second half on an 8-0 run, before the Tribe started to creep back into the game. William & Mary cut the lead to nine on two different occasions, the last time coming at 49-40 with 12:49 to play. However, Navy squashed any Tribe hopes with a 25-9 run over the next nine minutes to take its largest lead of the game at 74-49 with 3:43 to play.
"We came out in the second half with the same intensity we started with, and that was key to this game," said Lange. "We haven't done that a whole lot in the first two years here, but we are starting to. It gives everybody a spark coming out of the locker room after halftime."
William & Mary forced Navy into five turnovers in the last 3:43 to make the final margin respectable at 79-63.
Navy shot a season-best .614 percent (27-of-44) from the field, including .643 percent (9-of-14) from three-point land and .684 (13-of-19) in the decisive second half. It marked the first time this year that William & Mary allowed an opponent to shoot over .375. The Tribe entered game as the Colonial Athletic Association's top field goal percentage defensive team. The .614 shooting percentage was Navy's highest since Feb. 8, 1997, when the Mids went 42-of-65 (.646 percent) in a 109-73 win over Lehigh.
The Mids have shot over .500 percent in four of their seven games this year, after shooting over. 500 percent just six times in Lange's first two years at Navy.
"It (the shooting percentage) is just a result of the unselfishness and sharing this team has shown," said Lange. "When we are moving the ball and passing up shots for better shots is when we are at our best. We have seen a lot of that from these guys and they are burying the shots when open."
The lone downfalls for Navy was the 17 turnovers the Mids committed. Thirteen of the turnovers came in the final 20 minutes with five of them in the final four minutes. Navy also entered the game as the nation's top free throw shooting team (.844 percent), but went just 16-of-23 from the charity stripe (.696 percent).
"It's just a lack of focus," added Lange. "Cutting down on our turnovers will continue to give us more balance and the chance to obviously make more shots. We need to take care of the ball in the late stages and concentrate on our free throws, and that is something we will address in practice."
Kina led a balanced Navy attack with a season-high 18 points, adding seven rebounds, six assists and five steals in a fine all-around performance. Greg Sprink added 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and Corey Johnson tallied 10 points, five rebounds and three steals. Four other players (T.J. Topercer, Chris Harris, Trey Stanton and Adam Teague) all scored between six and nine points.
The Mids will take to the road for the last time before a four-game homestand with a 7:00 p.m., contest at Longwood on Friday, Dec. 1. Following the contest with Longwood, the Mids will host Howard (Dec. 4), Penn (Dec. 7), Delaware Valley College (Dec. 17) and Washington College (Dec. 20), all at Alumni Hall.
# GO NAVY #