Dec. 3, 2011
ELON, N.C. -- Elon freshman Austin Hamilton banked in a desperation 35-foot shot with 2.0 seconds left to hand the Navy men's basketball a 51-48 setback at Alumni Gym on Saturday afternoon.
The loss was Navy's second in a row and dropped the Midshipmen to 3-6 overall. Elon, which owns wins over South Carolina and at Princeton with its two losses coming in tight games at North Carolina State and UMass, improved to 5-2 on the season.
Navy led 45-42 with 3:33 to play, but had three turnovers in a crucial stretch to allow Elon to tie the game at 46 on a Drew Spradlin three-pointer with 1:40 to play. Elon would grab a 48-46 advantage on a Lucas Troutman jumper with 50 seconds left, but Navy sophomore J.J. Avila (McAllen, Texas) connected on a pair of free throws with 36 seconds left to tie the game at 48.
Elon opted to hold for the final shot and began its attack with 11 seconds left on the clock. Jack Isenbarger came around a screen and lost his dribble, forcing Hamilton to grab the ball along the left sideline. Hamilton took one dribble and with Isaiah Roberts (So. / Pennsauken, N.J.) in his face, threw up a 35-foot shot toward the rim that banked in with 2.0 seconds left. Jordan Sugars (Sr. / Winchester, Va.) had a decent look at a 28-footer to force overtime, but was long allowing the Phoenix to top the Mids, 51-48.
The outcome spoiled what was one of Navy's best defensive efforts in recent memory. The Mids held Elon to just 51 points while making just 33.3 percent of its field goal attempts, just five three-pointers (entered game averaging eight three-pointers per game) and forced the Phoenix into 14 tunovers. Navy also dominated the glass, 42-31, allowing just five offensive rebounds for Elon, turned into just two points for the Phoenix.
"I think we really did a good job with the gameplan defensively. I thought we rebounded the ball well and did a great job limiting their chances and offensive rebounds," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis
. "It just comes back to the other end of the floor on offense. The bottom line is that we were up three with three minutes to go and had three turnovers and those turnovers left the game to fate. Those are hard plays to overcome in a one-possession game. We did some good things and we played better, but we left it in the hands of the basketball gods tonight and it cost us."
Navy started slow, falling behind 10-2 just over five minutes into the game as Elon made four of its first six shots of the game. However, Navy rallied on the strength of its defense, as it held the Phoenix to just 3-of-18 (.167) from the field in the last 14:41 of the first half. But the Midshipmen weren't any better on the offensive end, shooting just 26.9 percent in the opening 20 minutes to trail 20-17 at halftime.
Navy wouldn't take the lead until the 14:08 mark of the second half when the Mids connected on back-to-back three-pointers by Thurgood Wynn (So. / Bethesda, Md.) and Worth Smith (Fr. / Mooresville, N.C.) at 28-26. Neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way and the largest run by either offense over the last 14 minutes was a five-point Navy spurt to turn a 38-35 deficit into a 40-38 lead with 6:04 to play.
Navy, however, failed to connect on a field goal over the last 6:50 of the contest as its last 10 points came from the free throw line.
The Mids got a boost from Donya Jackson (Fr. / Baltimore, Md.) in the first half and Wynn in the second half. Jackson scored five big points in the opening half and finished the game with six points, three rebounds and one steal with no turnovers in 20 minutes of action. Wynn scored seven of his nine points in the second half and finished with nine points, a career-high four rebounds and a team-best two assists in 18 minutes of action.
For the game, Navy shot just 14-of-51 (.275) from the field, 4-of-21 (.190) from three-point range and 16-of-21 (.762) from the free throw line. Navy had just six assists against 18 turnovers and outrebounded the Phoenix, 42-31.
In last year's contest against an Elon team with essentially everyone back, Navy was outrebounded by a 46-27 margin, a 30-rebound reversal from the 2010-11 game.
Elon shot 17-of-51 (.333) from the field, 5-of-20 (.250) from three-point range and 12-of-16 (.750) from the free throw line. The Phoenix had 14 turnovers.
Avila led Navy with 14 points, including 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Wynn had nine points and Worth Smith scored eight points with a career-best 10 rebounds. Sugars would add nine rebounds for the Midshipmen.
Isenbarger led Elon with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field.
"You learn a lot by winning games and by losing games. We just have to be able to execute down the stretch. We need to learn how to win and close out some games. We had a chance to win against Tulane and again here today against Elon and didn't finish either game off," said DeChellis.
Navy returns home to face Monmouth at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Alumni Hall. Tickets are available by calling 1-800-US4-NAVY or at the Alumni Hall box office one hour prior to tip-off.
Navy's starting lineup consisted of Sugars, Avila, Roberts, Worth Smith and Brickman. It was the second straight game with this starting lineup ... Navy has held three straight opponents to 59 or fewer points for the first time in the same season since Feb. 14 to March 5, 2000, when it held five straight opponents to 59 or fewer points ... Navy was held to 49 or fewer points in back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 7-10, 2004 ... Navy allowed Elon to just 20 points in the first half, the fewest in a half since Army scored 17 in the first half on Feb. 21, 2009 ... Navy was outrebounded last year by Elon, 46-27, but outrebounded the Phoenix, 42-31, a 30-rebound difference from last year ... Worth Smith recorded his first double-figure rebounding game of his career (10) ... J.J. Avila scored in double figures for the fifth straight game with 14 points. It was his 25th double-figure scoring game during his career and he now has 477 career points ... the 51 points allowed to Elon were the fewest given up in a Navy game since Lafayette scored 44 on Jan. 13, 2007, and were the fewest allowed in a Navy loss since Jan. 2, 1996, a 49-48 setback at Harvard ... Navy fell to 0-6 when having three or fewer players score in double figures and lost for the first time in 2011-12 when outrebounding its opponents (3-1) ... the series with Elon is now tied at 2-2. Navy won the first two meetings, but Elon has won the last two contests.
# GO NAVY #