The Navy-Johns Hopkins basketball series hasn't been very competitive. Heading into last night's meeting at Alumni Hall, the Midshipmen owned a 17-0 record against the Blue Jays, winning by an average of 31 points.
That changed last night in Johns Hopkins' 66-61 win.
The Blue Jays' strong inside play and mettle in the final minutes proved too much for the struggling Mids, who have dropped four in a row.
It was Johns Hopkins' first victory over a Division I opponent in coach Bill Nelson's 17-year tenure.
"We knew we had to keep it close and give ourselves a chance to win," Nelson said. "The effort was unbelievable, diving for loose balls and setting a tone."
The Blue Jays (5-1), who lost, 104-61, to Navy in their previous meeting 25 years ago, established their presence early and often from the perimeter, shooting 51 percent (23-for-45). Senior forward Steve Adams scored 14 points to lead Johns Hopkins, while Brendan Kamm added 12 points and four assists.
Adams, Johns Hopkins' leading scorer, fouled out with 2:28 remaining in regulation and his team holding a 56-53 advantage. Kamm buried a jumper to push the Blue Jays' lead to five with 2:18 left before Marcell Cummings got a loose ball and scored for Navy (2-4), bringing the Mids within three with 84 seconds to play.
Johns Hopkins pushed the lead back to 60-55 after a jumper by Jay Kreider with 50 seconds left. After a free throw by Scott Long brought Navy within four, the Blue Jays converted six consecutive free throws in the final 33 seconds to clinch it.
"We had people on campus telling us we're going to lose by 40, 70 points," said Adams, who got his 14 points in just 20 minutes. "Only 20 people knew we had a chance."
There wasn't much reason to think Division III Johns Hopkins would have much of a shot against Navy, considering the closest game in the series was a 68-56 decision in 1974.
Playing its sixth game in 13 days, Navy simply couldn't respond. The Mids shot 24-for-72 from the field, including 6-for-26 from three-point range.
Jason Jeanpierre had 17 points to lead Navy but missed on seven of 10 three-pointers.
"You keep thinking the run is coming, but the run never came tonight," Jeanpierre said. "Every time we got close, they answered with a shot or big rebound."
Said Navy coach Don DeVoe: "We never did anything on a consistent basis but miss shots. They did a good job. I thought clearly Johns Hopkins was the better team."