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Men's Basketball

Star Goes to Navy Men's Hoops

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Sean Yoder's five points in the last two minutes of the game provided just enough of a cushion for the Navy men's basketball team to hang on for a 52-49 victory over Army West Point, Saturday afternoon at Christl Arena in West Point, N.Y.

The game served as the annual Star Game -- part of the Star Series presented by USAA -- between the teams.  The Mids have now won the Star Game in back-to-back years and in four of the last five seasons.

"It is great to see smiles on the faces of my guys," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis.  "Really a hard fought game both ways.  Just a good old fashioned Army-Navy slugfest.  A really physical basketball game. Really proud of our guys making some shots when we needed to.  We didn't finish real well at the free throw line, but we made enough shots to win the darn thing, so after getting stung at home I am very proud of our guys coming back in here in this tough atmosphere and finding a way to win the game."

A combination of adrenaline and good defense made for a slow start offensively for both teams.  The Mids were the first to get into any kind of rhythm, which allowed them to take a 9-2 lead six minutes into the game.  Navy soon extended the advantage out to 13-4 and 19-8, with the latter coming with nine minutes still to play in the half.

Just as Army had s sluggish start to the game, Navy then had a scoring drought of its own.  The Mids scored just two points over the next seven minutes which allowed the Black Knights to tie the game at 21-21 with 2:31 remaining.  Tyler Nelson would score four points over the rest of the half, and his midrange baseline jumper with two seconds showing on the clock sent Navy into the locker room nursing a 25-23 lead.

Navy team captain and starting center Richard Njoku injured his head on a fall during the first half, and during intermission it was decided that he would not play in the second half.  

Army carried its late first half strong play into the start of the second half as the Black Knights scored the first nine points of the stanza to take a 32-25 lead.  A Nelson jumper started an 8-0 run by the Mids that gave them a 33-32 lead.  Two Army free throws put the Black Knights back in front, 34-33, but an emphatic dunk by Nelson followed by a triple from Patrick Dorsey made the score 38-34 in favor of Navy.  Nelson would soon make one free throw to push the lead out to 39-34.  A short while later, John Carter Jr. drained a three-point shot to give the Mids a 42-36 lead with 6:34 left on the clock.

The teams exchanged the next few points, which made the score 45-40 with four minutes left following a basket by Daniel Deaver.  A missed shot by Army was grabbed by Carter.  Carter would miss a twisting shot from the lane on the ensuing Navy possession.  Deaver grabbed the offensive board and went back up with the shot.  He missed, but grabbed his own rebound and again went back up with the ball.  This time he was fouled and went to the foul line with 3:14 remaining.  Deaver made both foul shots to give Navy a 47-40 lead.

Army's Jalen Rucker scored on the other end (47-42, 2:46), then Nelson missed a jumper with the shot clock winding down.  Deaver tipped the offensive board out to Yoder to keep the possession alive.  The Mids showed patience and eventually Yoder drilled a three-point shot to make the score 50-42 with 1:52 remaining.

"Sean had a big three for us," said DeChellis.  "We have worked really hard with him on shooting the basketball.  Credit him."

It took all of 20 seconds for Army to cut into the margin as Rucker connected on a triple of his own to being the gap down to 50-45 with 90 seconds left.  Army called timeout after the made basket.

Navy again showed patience on its next trip down the court, which ended with a missed three-point attempt by Carter just before the shot clock expired.  Army immediately called timeout with 56.8 seconds left.  When play resumed, the ball went into Rucker's hands and he drove it down the lane.  Deaver blocked the shot, then was part of a tie-up for the ball that gave Navy the ball on the alternating possession with 39.1 seconds remaining.  The Mids called timeout, then called a second timeout -- their last of the game -- when they had trouble inbounding it.

Navy was able to get the ball inbounds and over halfcourt before Yoder was fouled with 29.6 seconds left.  Shooting the bonus, he made both attempts to give Navy a 52-45 lead.  Rucker again drove toward the basket on the next Army possession, and he was fouled with 24.3 seconds left.  He was 6-6 from the foul line in the game to that point, but missed this effort. However, teammate Chris Mann swooped around and tipped in the missed shot to cut the margin down to 52-47.

After Navy inbounded the ball, Army fouled Greg Summers (Sr., Ocoee, Fla.) with 18.7 seconds left.  Still shooting the bonus, he missed the first attempt and the ball was grabbed by the Black Knights.  

Once again Rucker triggered the offense, and he was fouled on a drive with 8.0 seconds remaining.  He made both shots to cut the score down to 54-49.  Navy advanced the ball down the court and was able to run the clock down to 4.7 seconds left when Nelson was fouled. It was Army's 10th foul, which gave Nelson two attempts from the line.  However, he missed both and Army had the second rebound.  Rucker pushed the ball down the court, but his off-balanced three-point attempt from the right side of the court missed its mark to close out the game.

Navy made only nine second-half field goals and shot 34,8 percent in that span, but held Army to eight field goals and a 20.7 percent effort.  The Mids ended the game shooting 33.9 percent and holding the Black Knights to a 29.6 percent game.

"We talked about fundamentals well week," said DeChellis.  "We didn't turn it over against the press, which was a positive for us.  Neither team made a lot of shots.  It was a really good defensive effort on both ends."

Neither team shot the ball well from long range as Navy was 4-15 and Army was 3-21 from three-point land.  The Mids were 10-21 from the free throw line -- 3-10 in the second half -- and the Black Knights were 14-15 -- 12-13 in the second half.

Navy held a 28-18 advantage in points in the paint and a 20-10 lead in bench points.  The Mids committed one more turnover than the Black Knights, 15-14, and that resulted in Army holding a slim 15-13 edge points after turnovers.

Nelson led Navy with 16 points and added seven rebounds.  Deaver totaled 10 points, five offensive rebounds and eight caroms in all.  

"Deaver played really well defensively too," said DeChellis.  "Nate Allison came in off the bench and gave us some quality minutes.  Really important for us as Richard couldn't go in the second half.  Nate stepped up in his minutes and did a good job, got a basket for us and a couple of rebounds.  Total team effort.  Everyone just contributed off the bench.  We had 20 bench points and that is the way we have been all year."