American’s shooting effort gives Eagles victory over Navy

American Matt Rogers was 9-9 off the field and led the Eagles (14-7, 6-4) to a 73-69 win over the Navy men’s basketball team (11-11, 4-6) on Saturday afternoon in the Alumni Hall in Annapolis.

“We didn’t play very well individually, which of course affects the team,” the Navy head coach said Ed DeChellis. “Our post defense was horrendous. Both of your Post boys missed a shot (12-13). You don’t win when that happens.”

A very entertaining first half ended in a 37:37 draw. American went with an 8-0 run for a 27-23 lead, Navy responded with an 8-0 run to regain the lead at 37-34, then a shot from American Connor Nelson near the halfway field as the Buzzer sent the first half sounded the teams knotted into the dressing room.

The Eagles became the first team to make a move in the second half as they capitalized on a 7-0 run to take a 46-41 lead. The teams traded possession for the next six minutes, then American made another 7-0 sprint to take a 7-15 lead, 62-52. The Eagles eventually had a 69-62 lead with 1:34 on the clock.

Nate Allison (Sr., Fayetteville, Georgia) scored on Navy’s next possession (69-64), then the Mids sent Lincoln Ball to the foul line, leaving 1:10 for the bonus. He missed the front end and that led to Austin Benigni (Fr., The Woodlands, Texas) made it 69-66 with a layup with 61 seconds left. The Mids fouled Elijah Stephens with 54.0 seconds remaining, and he also missed at the front end of the bonus.

Navy tumbled the ball down the court and Christian Jones (Sr., Bowie, Md.) drove off the left wing across the plaza and then onto the right side of the lane. His unbalanced attempt sped off the rim with 42 seconds to go. The Eagles grabbed the ball, and quickly, Navy’s Colin Smalls was fouled with 38.6 seconds left. It was the Navy’s 10th foul, meaning Smalls would take two shots. He did both to push the lead back to two possessions 71-66.

It took all of six seconds for Sean Yoder (Sr., Dublin, Pa.) to empty a three-point basket for Navy to make it 71-69 with 32.2 seconds on the clock. The Mids would soon be fouling Stephens with 22.5 seconds remaining. He made the first shot (72-69) and missed the second. Navy stormed the ball down the court but got a little flustered trying to find an open three-point shot. Eventually, Allison had to drive the ball to the basket, missing the runner, which was grabbed by the Eagles. Stephens was fouled with 4.1 seconds remaining. He missed the first try but made the second to end the scoring.

American was 9-10 in his two-point shots in the second half and made 20-25 (80%) two-point attempts in the game. Conversely, Navy was 19-35 (54.3%) on two-point shots in the afternoon. Combined, the Eagles shot 60.9 percent from the floor (28-46) to beat the Mids’ 51.0 percent (26-51) performance. American scored 40 of his 73 points (54.8%) in the suit, while Navy scored 28 of his 69 points (40.6%) in the suit.

“I tried to emphasize to this team how important the last three games we have won are. We were very good defensively,” DeChellis said. “Kept teams below their average; from three (point range), from two (point range). We didn’t make it today.

“We told them for two days that the key to the game is post-defense. And high hands on the circumference. Post-defense begins with perimeter defense. If you don’t have high hands on the edge and discourage the pass at the post then you have to help these guys and I don’t know if we had high hands and were chasing the ball like we needed to be.

Yoder walked Navy by 19 points and Jones added 14 points. Rogers totaled 18 points for the Eagles.

Navy hit the road for two games next week. The Mids play at Lafayette on Wednesday and Holy Cross on Saturday.


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