Navy men surrender lead, fall to Norfolk St. 71-65

61/2-minute span is key

seven-game losing streak is longest since 2003-'04

January 02, 2012|From Sun staff reports

Pendarvis Williams scored 20 points and Kyle O'Quinn had 17 points and 11 rebounds as Norfolk State defeated host Navy, 71-65, on Sunday in the men's basketball teams' first meeting, sending the Mids to their seventh straight loss.

Williams scored 11 points during a 61/2-minute stretch when the Spartans (10-5) rallied from a 39-30 deficit to lead 50-48 with 12:19 remaining.

Norfolk State didn't trail again, but it never led by more than six and was ahead just 67-65 with 10 seconds left after Navy's Thurgood Wynn made one of two free throws.

Chris McEachin gave the Spartans a four-point lead with two free throws, and Jamel Fuentes' steal and two free throws with six seconds left provided the final margin.

"It's the same thing that happened against Mercer in the second half. We couldn't stop them or guard them," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis, referring to a 65-56 loss Friday. "In saying that, we still had a chance to do something late. We just took two really tough shots at tough times. We fought and competed and played hard, but we just didn't guard anyone in the second half."

J.J. Avila's 18 points led the Midshipmen (3-11), whose losing streak is their longest since the 2003-04 squad dropped 13 straight games. Sunday's game was their final nonleague contest before Patriot League play begins.

Williams was 6-for-7 from the field, 4-for-4 from 3-point range and 4-for-5 from the foul line for the Spartans, who continued the program's best start since 1996-97. Williams hit all five of his field goal attempts in the second half, including his quartet of 3s, to spark a rally from a six-point halftime deficit.

The Spartans got off to a slow start, however, missing nine of their first 10 shots. Navy, meanwhile, shot 63 percent (15-for-24) from the floor in the first half.

Navy jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the early going, but the Spartans later responded with a 9-2 spurt, featuring a 3-point play by Brandon Wheeless and capped by a layup by Rodney McCauley, to take their largest lead of the half at 21-16.

But the Midshipmen outscored the Spartans 20-9 over the final seven minutes of the half to take a 36-30 lead into the intermission. Navy hit three of its four first-half 3-pointers in that stretch, including two by Jordan Sugars. Navy also held the Spartans to 39 percent shooting from the floor in the first period (12-for-31).

Jordan Brickman hit a 3-pointer right out of the break to give Navy its largest lead of the game at 39-30. But this time the Spartans answered with a 20-9 run of their own to surge back into the lead. Williams scored 13 of those points thanks in part to three 3s, the last of which gave the Spartans a 50-48 lead with 12:19 left.

A 3-pointer by Worth Smith tied the game at 51 with 10:57 remaining, but the Spartans answered with scores on back-to-back possessions by Fuentes and O'Quinn, the preseason Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year, to reclaim the advantage for good.

Still, the Midshipmen stayed close and had two chances to tie in the final 30 seconds. But Ted Connolly and Sugars each missed 3-pointers that would have evened the score, and Norfolk State went 5-for-6 from the line in the final 22 seconds to seal the win.

As hot as Navy was in the first half, the Spartans were even hotter in the second. Norfolk State hit 75 percent of its attempts (12 of 16) from the floor after halftime and finished the game making 51 percent. Navy connected on just 36 percent of its shots (10 of 28) in the second half to finish at 48 percent for the game.

Navy got a strong contribution from Connolly off the bench — a career-high 24 minutes with two points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against no turnovers.

"We wanted some toughness and energy tonight, and Teddy can bring that," DeChellis said. "When you lose some games, you try to shake some things up and see what some guys can do. I thought he did some good things and played pretty good defense throughout the game."

Wheeless finished the game with 12 points, tying his season high. Eleven of those came in the first half. Fuentes had eight points and four assists off the bench, while McEachin also finished with eight points and four assists.

FGFTRebNorfolk St.M-AM-AO-TPtsTamares0-22-20-22McEachin3-92-20-48O'Quinn7-113-44-1117Williams6-74-50-120McCauley1-30-01-12Johnson0-20-01-20Fuentes2-24-60-18Pugh0-10-00-10Weathers0-10-00-00Wheeless4-72-32-312Rogers1-20-00-02Totals24-4717-2210-2971
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