ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy men's basketball team jumped out to a 12-point lead just six-plus minutes into the game and never trailed in holding off IPFW, 54-49, on Wednesday night in Alumni Hall.
The win enables Navy to pass last season's win total, pushing Navy's record to 4-4 overall. It's the first time since the 2008-09 season (19-11 overall; 5-1 in November) that Navy has posted a record of .500 or better during the month of November. IPFW falls to 4-4 overall.
"I told the team in the locker room after the game that this was a team win. It doesn't matter who starts. We need all 15 players to contribute. We got a great effort from our bench and we needed everybody tonight," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "Kendall, obviously, played well and Brennan Wyatt did some really good things in the second half. That is the way we are going to be. Hopefully, we can keep calling different guys' numbers and they can continue to produce."
While Navy led for the entire game, there were some tense moments in the second half. The Mastadons cut the lead to 31-30 with 10:41 left to play when freshman Kendall Knorr (Concord, N.C.) took over the game.
Knorr scored 13 of his game-high 15 points in the next five minutes to fuel an 18-6 run that gave the Midshipmen a 49-36 lead with 4:30 to play.
"I just got really good looks tonight. My teammates put great passes on me and I stepped into my shot, followed through and knocked them down," said Knorr. "I was feeling it a little bit and was glad it just kept coming."
"I am trying to get him more aggressive and be more than a catch-and-shoot player and you saw that a little bit tonight. He has that ability in him," said DeChellis. "He just needs to add that next part to his game. He has it in him. He just hasn't shown it yet. He's learning his game. He has played in eight college games after tonight. He has a lot of games and good things ahead of him."
IPFW started to chip away at the Navy lead after Knorr's spree, aided by subpar Navy free throw shooting. The Mastadons trailed 52-46 when Wyatt made one-of-two free throws with 52 seconds left. Baltimore native Isaiah McCray buried a three-pointer to cut the lead to 52-49 with 44 seconds left and after Navy missed a shot on the other end, IPFW had the ball with a chance to tie.
DeChellis chose to foul with 4.7 seconds left and McCray missed the free throws and the Mastadons were whistled for a lane violation on the second one. Worth Smith (So. / Mooresville, N.C.) would make two free throws with 3.0 seconds left for the final five-point margin.
Navy controlled the game early on, taking a 14-2 lead just six-plus minutes into the game, fueled by a pair of Brandon Venturini (So. / Allendale, Mich.) three-pointers. However, the Mastadons used a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 14-11 with 10:05 left and then to 18-16 with 4:37 to play.
Navy countered with a quick 6-0 spurt for a 24-16 halftime lead.
In the last three first halves of games, Navy held its opponents to just 51 total points, while foes shot 19-of-77 (.247) from the field and 6-of-39 (.154) from three-point distance. All three opponents (Prairie View A&M, Delaware State, IPFW) were held to 20 or fewer points in the first half.
"Coach has been preaching it all year that we just need to value each possession. We weren't thinking of last year and surpassing last year's win total. That wasn't our goal this year. We have been in every single game. We have to do all the little things to be successful and keep improving," said Knorr. "This is a great team to be a part of it. We all care for each other and we all have a special bond."
Navy shot 20-of-45 (.444) from the field, 7-of-13 (.538) from three-point range and 7-of-14 (.500) from the free throw line. Navy had 16 assists on its 20 baskets with just 11 turnovers.
IPFW was 17-of-46 (.370) from the field, 9-of-22 (.409) from three-point range and 6-of-15 (.400) from the free throw line. IPFW was credited with 17 miscues and outrebounded the Midshipmen, 36-26. Sixteen of IPFW's 49 points came off offensive rebounds.
Navy has held four of its eight opponents this year to 49 points or less and seven of the eight to 54 points or less. Just one team, UAB, has scored more than 55 points this year.
Knorr led Navy with 15 points in just 19 minutes while going 6-of-6 from the field and 3-of-3 from beyond the three-point arc. The six field goals made without a miss were the most by a freshman in a game in school history (sixth most all-time by any Navy player) and his three three-pointers without a miss were the third most in a game by a freshman in school history (seventh most in school history by any player).
Knorr entered the game leading all Patriot League freshmen in three-pointers made with nine and he is now 12-of-27 (.444) for the season behind the arc.
Venturini added 11 points while going 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Worth Smith chipped in with 10 points and four rebounds, while Tilman Dunbar (Fr. / Fairfax, Va.) had seven assists against just two turnovers in 27 minutes of action. Wyatt chipped in with a solid floor game, scoring four points with three rebounds and three assists against one turnover in just 14 minutes.
McCray led IPFW with 10 points.
Navy heads to the Big Easy on Saturday to face Tulane at 4:00 PM (ET). The game will be broadcast on WNAV Radio (1430 AM, 99.9 FM), WTOP Radio (1050 AM) and SIRIUS and XM (Ch. TBA) Satellite Radio with Pete Medhurst handling the call courtside.