Dec. 29, 2007
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, N.Y. - Greg Sprink scored 33 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Navy to an 85-83 victory over St. Francis. Kaleo Kina added 23 points, six rebounds and six assists as Navy moved to 5-8 on the season. The win was Navy's second in a row for the first time this season. St. Francis falls to 3-10.
"This is a great win for us. I was really proud of the way we battled. We stayed positive and just the way we won the game was very encouraging," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "The evolution of this team over the last three weeks has been great. This is a game we would have lost earlier in the year, but the way we kept battling is a sign of this team."
Navy led virtually the entire first half, with the lone exception of a 17-17 tie with about 12 minutes to play. However, the Mids reclaimed the lead with a 7-0 run to grab a 24-17 advantage 8:47 to play on a Chris Harris (Mechanicsville, Va.) three-pointer. The Mids would push the lead to 10 twice in the first half, thanks to Kaleo Kina (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Greg Sprink (Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.), the last time at 40-30, before the Terriers scored the final four points to trim the margin to 40-34 at the break.
Kina connected on a pair of three-point bombs in the final three minutes, and Sprink totaled 12 points on five-of-nine shooting in the opening 20 minutes. The duo of Sprink and Kina would score 25 of Navy's 40 first-half points, and Lange got a strong contribution from T.J. Topercer (Scottsdale, Ariz.) off the bench. Topercer was scoreless entering the contest, but scored six points on three-of-three shooting and dished out two assists in the opening half.
The Mids bumped the lead back to 10 at 46-36 moments into the second half, but the Terriers' Rocco Rubino connected on back-to-back three-pointers to cap off an 8-0 run and tie the game at 50 with 12:51 to play.
However, just as quick as St. Francis got back into the game, Navy went on a 9-0 run of its own to take a 59-50 cushion with eleven minutes to play. Sprink started the run with a three-pointer in the corner to start the run and Kina scored on a pair of lay-ups to aid the Mids.
"There were pockets in this game, they would make a run and we could have easily folded," said Lange. "But we responded with a run of our own after timeouts and made the plays when we needed to."
The Terriers' Jamaal Womack rallied St. Francis. The 5-8 senior guard connected on three consecutive three-pointers, including one from about 28 feet, to cut the Navy lead to 66-63 with 5:30 to play. Womack would hit his fourth consecutive three to tie the game at 68 with just under four minutes to play.
"We tried to guard them and a few times we got caught with our hands down on his shots," said Lange. "But he is so quick we had to give him run. Sometimes you just have to give the opponent credit. He made some very tough shots."
But Sprink went on his own personal 8-0 run, including a pair of three-pointers to give Navy the lead for good. The Mids then closed the game by converting nine-of-10 free throws in the final 1:17 for the two-point win.
Sprink's 33 points are the most for a Navy player since he scored a career-best 34 against Brown on Dec. 22, 2005, during his sophomore year. He finished the game 11-of-18 from the field and 7-of-9 from the charity stripe. He also added three assists, a block and a steal.
"Greg (Sprink) played with outstanding offensive energy tonight and really made some great plays," said Lange. "Even better, he showed great leadership and kept us together on the floor.
"I thought Kaleo (Kina) and Chris (Harris) played well tonight too," said Lange. "Chris' shot was off, but he did a great job running the offense. Kaleo played within himself and was a key component in the runs we had."
Navy finished the game shooting 30-of-61 (.492) from the field and 9-fo-26 (.346) from three-point range. Navy was guilty of just 14 turnovers and dished out 21 assists. St. Francis shot 30-of-64 (.469) from the field, but committed 19 turnovers. The Terriers outrebounded the Mids, 42-29.
Navy will be in action next on Wednesday, Jan. 2, when it hosts NJIT on the back end of a doubleheader at Alumni Hall. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm.
# GO NAVY #