Nov. 9, 2007
FARMVILLE, Va. -- The Navy men's basketball team went on a 36-14 run over a 12-minute span of the first half to break open a tight game and cruise to an 88-72 victory over Longwood in the season opener for both teams on Friday night. The Mids led 49-33 at halftime and held at least a 10-point lead for the last 30 minutes of the game.
Navy's 88 points were the seventh most in a season opener and the most in an opener since the 1995-96 season (89 vs. Air Force). The 88 points were also the most for a Navy team since scoring 89 against Lafayette on Feb. 11, 2006, a span of 37 games.
"It was a great atmosphere tonight and we made a lot of shots which took the crowd out of the game in the first half. Everytime they made a run in the second half, we seemed to hit a big shot," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "I was really proud of our effort. This is the hardest-playing team I have coached. They get after it defensively and it is great to open the year with a road win."
Longwood was playing in its first NCAA Division I game, and a rowdy crowd of 1,609 sporting white t-shirts was quieted by Navy's stellar first-half play.
The Mids rode the hot hand of senior Greg Sprink (Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif.) in the first half. Sprink scored 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting with five rebounds and three assists to lead the Mids to the 16-point halftime cushion. Sprink's third three-pointer of the first half gave Navy a 47-27 lead with just over a minute to play. It was part of a 50.0 percent (20-of-40) field-goal effort in the first half. Navy was aided by 14 Longwood turnovers, in which the Mids turned into 17 points.
Every time Longwood countered with a run in the second half, the Mids would answer with a three-pointer. The Lancers trimmed the margin to 12 with just over 15 minutes to play, when Kaleo Kina (Phoenix, Ariz.) connected on a three-pointer to push the lead to 15 at 56-41. Again, with 14 minutes to play and Navy sporting a 58-44 advantage, Bryce Brigham (Bellevue, Wash.) connected on a trey for a 17-point advantage. Lastly, Longwood trailed 63-50 with 11:52 to play when Adam Teague (Hickory, N.C.) netted a deep three from the corner to push the margin to 66-50.
Navy would then manage to take its biggest lead at 79-58 with 5:27 to play on a Chris Harris
(Mechanicsville, Va.) layup, before coasting in for the final 88-72 decision.
The story of the night was the Navy defense which forced 22 Longwood turnovers and held the Lancers to 43.5 percent (27-of-62) from the field and 27.8 percent (5-of-18) from three-point range. Longwood did outrebound the Mids, 37-36.
"We wanted to cut down their penetration and limit their offensive rebounds," said Lange. "We did that for the most part, but they started crashing hard at the end of the game and getting extra chances. It's something we need to clean up, but it was a good effort for us. With the first game of the year, its more about what we do and not what the opponents do. We'll look at the tape and make some adjustments. I think we could do better defensively, but it was a good start."
The Mids were led by Sprink's 28 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The senior captain was 9-of-19 from the field and made a concerted effort to share the ball.
"It takes pressure off everyone else when everyone is involved," said Sprink. "We were knocking down shots and it makes our offense click a lot better when everyone is involved. We got the first-game jitters out and we'll become more efficient as the season wears on."
Sprink's 28 led four Mids in double-figures. Harris tallied 12 points, two assists and two steals, Kina added 11 points, five steals and three assists and Teague came off the bench to score 11 points with four rebounds and three assists. Centers Ben Biles (Cramerton, N.C.) and freshman Mark Veazey (Lilburn, Ga.) combined for nine points and 11 rebounds.
The Mids shot 50.8 percent (33-of-65) from the field, including 44.8 percent (13-of-29) from three-point range. Navy was 9-of-11 (81.8 percent) from the free throw line. Navy recorded 21 assists on 33 made shots and recorded 19 turnovers.
The Mids will travel to Drexel on Sunday, for a 4:00 pm tip-off. Drexel was a 67-59 overtime winner against Penn on Friday night.
# GO NAVY #