ANNAPOLIS, Md. --Kendall Knorr led four players in double figures with 15 points and the Navy men's basketball team outscored Bryant, 18-7, over the last six-plus minutes to give the Midshipmen a 69-59 victory on Monday night in Alumni Hall.
The win improves Navy's record to 6-6 overall heading into final exams which start tomorrow. Bryant, which had won five of its last six games entering Monday's contest, fell to 5-4 overall.
Navy trailed 52-51 with 6:42 to play when the Midshipmen scored on five of their next six possessions to grab a seven-point lead. Leading just 57-55, Worth Smith (So. / Mooresville, N.C.) made an acrobatic pull-up jumper and Knorr buried a three-pointer with 2:03 to play to bump the lead to seven points, 62-55. Knorr would then make seven-of-eight free throws in the final 40 seconds to ice the game away for the Midshipmen, 69-59.
Bryant would make just one field goal, a banked-in 25-foot three-pointer with 13 seconds left, in the game's final six minutes.
The win moved Navy to 4-1 at Alumni Hall this year, with the lone loss being a 54-49 overtime loss to Siena on Nov. 11.
"I didn't think we played very well tonight, but obviously, the most important thing is that these guys found a way to win and that is a great fiber to have. You aren't going to play well every night. We did some things that were very uncharacteristic of us tonight. We didn't rebound. We didn't play great defense. We just didn't have legs and energy tonight," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "This team found a way to win a game. That is a very important trait to have as a team. It came down in the last four minutes and guys stepped up and made basketball plays."
"Coach is always preaching about protecting our home court. We don't want teams to come in here and take our home-court advantage. We didn't play well in the first half, so we wanted to come out and assert ourselves in the second half and get that win," said Navy freshman point guard Tilman Dunbar (Woodbridge, Va.)
Navy trailed 29-28 at halftime after a see-saw first half that featured two ties and five lead changes with neither team leading by more than six points at any point during the half. Navy would surge ahead 40-36 on a James Loupos (Jr. / Skillman, N.J.) three-pointer with 13:49 left, but Bryant answered 9-3 spurt to take a 45-43 advantage with 9:41 to play.
Navy countered with a three-pointer by Kevin Alter (So. / Rumson, N.J.) and lay-ups by Dunbar and Smith for a 50-45 advantage with 8:03 to play. Bryant scored seven of the next eight points for its last lead of the game, 52-51, with 6:42 to play before Navy embarked on its game-ending 18-7 run.
The Midshipmen would shoot 13-of-19 (.684) from the field in the second half, including 5-of-7 (.714) from three-point range. Over the last three games, Navy is shooting 46-of-69 (.667) from the field in the second half.
Navy led most of the first half, taking its largest lead of the opening stanza at 16-10 on a Dunbar lay-up with 10:57 to play. Bryant would counter with an 8-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 18-16 with 8:36 to play. The Midshipmen responded with a 10-3 spurt, before Bryant ended with an 8-2 run for the 29-28 Bulldogs' halftime lead.
Navy finished the game by shooting 24-of-43 (.558) from the field, 6-of-11 (.545) from three-point range and 15-of-20 (.750) from the free throw line. Navy had 17 assists on 24 made field goals while turning the ball over 12 times. Navy was outrebounded, 34-24, including 15-3 on the offensive glass.
Bryant shot 21-of-54 (.389) from the field including just 11-of-33 (.333) from the field in the second half. The Bulldogs finished 6-of-19 (.316) from three-point range and 11-of-17 (.647) from the free throw line. Bryant had 15 turnovers and turned 15 offensive rebounds into 13 second-chance points.
Knorr led the Mids with 15 points going 3-of-5 from the field, 2-of-3 from three-point range and 7-of-8 from the free throw line with three rebounds and an assist in 25 minutes. Dunbar would record his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 assists while going 5-of-8 from the field. Loupos added 11 points (4-of-7 FGs) with four rebounds and a block and Brandon Venturini (So. / Allendale, Mich.) tallied 10 points and four steals with a pair of three-pointers.
Navy freshmen combined for 36 points on 11-of-19 field goal attempts and 12-of-16 from the free throw line. Over the last three games, Navy freshmen have scored 114 of Navy's 219 points.
Loupos matched a season high with 11 points and has scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time in his career after scoring 11 points vs. Mount St. Mary's on Friday night.
"I am just playing with more confidence now. Coach has asked me to step up and contribute any way I can. Tilman and the rest of the guys are finding everyone open and we are just knocking them down." said Loupos. "I think I have found my niche with what the team needs from me and I am doing all I can to help the team and do what I can."
"We have been pumping his (Loupos) tires some. James has done a really nice job and gets all the credit. He has been able to make the open jumper and that is what we need from him," said DeChellis. "He is just playing with more confidence and just playing the game. He has done a nice job and has been very good for us lately."
Joe O'Shea led Bryant with 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Navy will now turn its attention to final exams, which begin tomorrow and run through next Tuesday (Dec. 18).
"We had no juice in practice on Saturday or yesterday in practice. Our shootaround today was pretty flat. We faked our way through it today, but you could tell we didn't have much tonight with finals impending," said DeChellis. "It's understandable. I thought some guys rose to the occasion when they had to and it was important for us to make some plays. Exams are very stressful at any college, and here at the Academy, its more than that. We have eight days of exams and its challenging for the guys."
Navy is off until December 22 when it hosts Northern Kentucky at 2:00 PM in Alumni Hall in Annapolis.