Nov. 29, 2010
EMMITSBURG, Md. -- Led by Mark Veazey's 17 points, five Navy players scored in double figures and the Navy men's basketball led nearly the entire game in defeating Mount St. Mary's, 81-68, on Monday night. The win moves Navy's record to 3-6 overall and ended a grueling nine-game, 21-day stretch to start the season.
Mount St. Mary's fell to 2-4 overall.
The Midshipmen took the lead for good at 9-8 with 15:26 to play in the first half and the lead didn't dip below 10 points in the last 23 minutes of the contest as the Mids secured their third victory of the season and second straight road win.
Navy led 45-32 at halftime and earned the lead by playing well on both ends. Navy shot 45.2 percent (14-of-31) from the field in the opening 20 minutes, including 50.0 percent (8-of-16) from three-point range and 81.8 percent (9-of-11) from the free throw line, while committing just three turnovers. Defensively, the Mids forced 11 turnovers and allowed just six second-chance points.
"We have had moments so far, and from both ends, I thought it was our best half of play," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "We did a lot of things well in the first half."
The Mids turned an 8-5 deficit early on into a 19-11 lead with a 14-3 run that spanned just four minutes. During the run, Lange got production from Isaiah Roberts (Fr. / Pennsauken, N.J.), who scored 10 of Navy's first 12 points and five points from Brennan Wyatt (Fr. / Greensboro, N.C.). Navy would lead just 30-26 when it embarked on a 11-0 run to grab a 41-26 lead right before halftime. That run was fueled by three-pointers by Romeo Garcia (Sr. / Cypress, Texas), J.J. Avila (Fr. / McAllen, Texas) and Wyatt.
Of Navy's 45 points in the first half, 29 of them came from freshmen.
"What the freshmen are teaching all of us is about the power of faith. Faith is belief before production, and that is what they are teaching me. They are making me better as a coach. And they are making our team better, because we have to use them," said Lange. "For a staff that has relied on six or seven guys for the last two or three years, to now have to play some young guys, it's a testament to this team and their attitude."
In the second half, Mount St. Mary's would cut the lead to 10 three different times, the last at 66-56 with 5:30 to play. But O.J. Avworo (Sr. / Houston, Texas) and Greg Brown (Sr. / Waldorf, Md.) would connect on back-to-back three-point plays, on an and-one by Avworo and a three-point basket by Brown, to give Navy its largest lead of the game at 72-56 with 4:02 left.
From then on out, Navy made 9-of-12 free throws in the last four minutes to breeze home with a 13-point victory, 81-68.
Navy will now get a much-needed five-day break before facing George Washington in the BB&T Classic on Sunday at the Verizon Center. The Mids just wrapped up a 21-day stretch that featured nine games, three flights to Texas, Buffalo and UC Irvine and just two home games.
"The toughest part is having to play all these games. We just haven't had practice time. We have spent our time talking about character and not basketball, because we just haven't had time to practice on Navy basketball," said Lange. "Our freshmen are not playing like freshmen anymore. There is no tentativeness out there at all by them."
For the game, Navy shot 45.5 percent (25-of-55) from the field and 36.0 percent (9-of-25) from three-point range. Navy also went 22-of-31 (.710) from the free throw line and had 16 assists to just 11 turnovers.
It also marked the third straight game that Navy played without junior guard Jordan Sugars (Winchester, Va.). In fact, Navy's top two scorers, Sugars and Brown, had zero points in the first half with Brown playing just four minutes due to foul trouble.
"We don't think about that stuff. Our foundation is about team," said Lange. "With this group, they understand it. We don't think about who is not there on the floor. We are thinking about what we have to do to win the game, and it doesn't matter who takes the shots. We have faith in everyone."
Navy got a big effort from senior Mark Veazey (Lilburn, Ga.). Veazey had 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting with six rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.
"We got Mark a lot of touches, and the perimeter guys did a great job getting him the ball. He is getting tougher and we are demanding more of him," said Lange. "He is the best teammate we have had in seven years here. Now we need to get him to think a little selfishly about what we need him to bring every game. Once he does that, you can see some results. He had a big game tonight."
Veazey was joined in double figures by Avworo with a season-high 15 points, while going 11-of-13 from the free throw line. Roberts had 11 points, three assists and two steals, Wyatt had 10 points and four assists and Avila had 10 points, a team-best seven rebounds and three assists.
The Mount shot 38.5 percent (20-of-52) from the field and just 20.0 percent (4-of-20) from three-point range. The Mountaineers were guilty of 20 turnovers (turned into 22 Navy points) and outrebounded the Mids, 42-28. Shawn Atupem and Raven Barber led Mount St. Mary's with 13 points each.
Navy returns to action on Sunday when it travels to the nation's capital for a tip-off in the BB&T Classic against George Washington at 5:00 pm in the Verizon Center. The game will be aired by MASN TV.
# GO NAVY #