Dec. 6, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- George Washington used a 20-9 run over the final eight-plus minutes to hand Navy an 81-69 setback in the first game of the BB&T Classic on Sunday afternoon in the Verizon Center. The loss ended Navy's modest two-game winning streak and dropped the Mids to 4-5 overall. George Washington improved to 6-1 overall.
For the second straight season, Navy pushed a team from a power conference to the brink in the annual event, but was done in by a second-half run. Last year, Navy led Virginia Tech into the second half, before falling, 79-70.
"I'm proud of the fight we showed in a great venue against a great opponent in George Washington," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "It's hard to have moments or lapses where you don't play well on both ends at the same time. We had our chance to win this game, but just had some moments where we lost focus on both ends."
After leading for the majority of the first half, George Washington ended the half on a 9-3 spurt over the final 1:36 to grab a 37-35 halftime lead. The Colonials slowly added to their lead, taking a 59-49 advantage with 11:48 to play.
However, Navy battled back behind senior guard Chris Harris. Harris scored eight points in an 11-2 run to cut the Colonials' lead to one at 61-60 with 9:16 to play.
But George Washington answered with a 14-0 run over almost five minutes to grab its largest lead of the game at 75-60 with just over four minutes to play.
"When we got it down to one, I think we just lost some focus. We put out a lot of energy to get back and once we did, we relaxed a bit," added Lange. "We had a couple of possessions where it felt like we expended so much energy just to get back in it, and we lost our focus and composure."
Navy would crawl to within 10 just once more at 79-69 with 1:57 to play on a T.J. Topercer three-pointer, but could get no closer and the Colonials closed out an 81-69 decision.
The Colonials pressed the entire game, but Lange didn't feel their depth was an issue, despite turning the ball over a season-high 21 times.
"Not a discredit to them, but once we got past their first line, we got high-quality shots. We needed to make shots in this game to have a chance and we didn't make enough," said Lange. "Anytime you turn it over against them, they were able to run and were quick off our turnovers. Mentally, their depth may have worn us down a bit with their run-outs, but that was it. That just grinds on you a bit."
After a see-saw first eight minutes that saw three ties and three lead changes, Navy would take control of the first half with a 9-2 run to grab a 22-15 advantage with 10:19 to play. But the Midshipmen went scoreless for almost four minutes as GWU tied the game at 24.
Chris Harris led the Mids with 26 points, moving into 17th on the school's career scoring list. Harris went 7-of-14 from long distance, while Navy's 12 three-pointers were also a season high.
"I feel good about my shot, but I felt good about when I was missing earlier this year," said Harris. "We work a lot on shooting during practice, and it will come around. Shooters have to keep shooting."
Navy shot just 38.6 percent (22-of-57) from the field, 34.3 percent (12-of-35) from three-point range and 68.4 percent (13-of-19) from the free throw line. George Washington shot 46.9 percent (30-of-64) from the field, 31.3 percent from three-point range (5-of-16) and 80.0 percent (16-of-20) from the charity stripe. Navy had 21 turnovers to GWU's 18, and the Colonials outrebounded the Mids, 40-32.
T.J. Topercer came off the bench to add 11 points and Romeo Garcia added 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Jordan Sugars had nine points and nine rebounds, while O.J. Avworo dished out nine assists.
Damian Hollis led the Colonials with 18 points and Lasan Kromah added 16.
Navy will travel to Maryland-Eastern Shore for a Wednesday night tilt at 7:00 pm in Princess Anne, Md. The contest will be aired on WNAV (1430 AM) with the Navy pregame show, starting at 6:45 pm. In addition, UMES' web site, www.umeshawks.com, will stream online the game free of charge.
# GO NAVY #