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Navy Comes Up Short At Northern Kentucky

Brandon Venturini

Dec. 21, 2013

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HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - Junior guard Brandon Venturini scored a season-high 20 points but the Navy men's basketball team (5-5) let a double-digit lead slip away in falling to Northern Kentucky (4-7), 72-65, at The Bank of Kentucky Center on Saturday.

Navy led by 11 points in the first half and had a seven-point lead with eight minutes remaining in the second, but the Mids missed eight of their last 10 shots of the game after making 11 of their first 12 to open the second half. NKU outscored Navy 49-36 in the second half after only scoring 23 points in the first.

Navy led for the entire second half until Northern Kentucky's Todd Johnson hit a three pointer to give the Norse a 61-60 lead with 4:53 remaining. Navy briefly regained the lead on two Venturini free throws but the Norse closed the game on an 11-3 run for the 72-65 win.

To begin the run, NKU's Anthony Monaco hit two free throws and then Jalen Billups dunked a put-back to put the Norse up four at 66-62. Navy's Worth Smith hit a three from the right wing to cut the lead to one, but NKU's Tyler White hit a three-pointer from the corner with 30 seconds remaining. The ball circled around the rim before finally falling in. Navy missed its last three shots and NKU went 3-of-4 from the free throw line in the last 20 seconds.

"It ended up being a possession game and they made a big shot when they needed to and we didn't," head coach Ed DeChellis said. "But you can't give a team 50 points in the second half and expect to win. We got outrebounded again tonight and we had no presence inside defensively. We let them make some easy shots. And everything for us offensively was from the perimeter. We didn't get inside. We still had our chances but we didn't finish the game off."

Venturini's 20 points came on 7-of-11 shooting and Smith added 15 points. Venturini also had two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Sophomore guard Kendall Knorr tallied 13 points, all of which came in the first half. Knorr also had a team-high six rebounds.

Knorr and Venturini shared the hot hand early, scoring Navy's first 18 points of the game and 24 of Navy's 29 points in the opening period. Venturini and Knorr both hit three pointers in the opening minutes and then Knorr drilled another three as the shot clock expired as Navy took a 9-6 lead.

After the Norse evened the game at 9-9, Navy reeled off a 9-0 run with Venturini and Knorr both hitting jumpers from the outside and then Knorr drilled his third three pointer. The run was capped off when Venturini got a steal and then went coast-to-coast for a fast-break layup.

A three pointer by freshman Zach Fong, another outside jumper by Knorr and then two free throws by Smith gave Navy an 11-point lead, its largest of the game, at 25-14 with 6:16 remaining in the first half. Northern Kentucky whittled away at the lead with a 7-0 run that lasted nearly four minutes before Venturini made a pair of free throws before hitting an outside jumper to send Navy to the locker room with a 29-23 lead.

Northern Kentucky shot 51.0 percent in the game (25-of-49) and held a 28-27 edge on the glass. Billups had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Northern Kentucky and Johnson also scored 16 points. Jordan Jackson and Tyler White each had 11.

Navy will next play at UMBC on Monday, December 30.



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