Navy's regular season closes with a whimper


Searching for a dose of confidence heading into the Patriot League tournament, host Navy yesterday instead ended its regular season with something far less desirable - a four-game losing streak.

After using the hot shooting of sophomore Greg Sprink to build an early nine-point lead, the Midshipmen went cold in the second half as opposing Colgate pulled away for an 80-72 win before 1,606 at Alumni Hall.

The loss gave Navy (10-17, 3-11) the No. 7 seed in the eight-team tournament, which begins Friday when the Midshipmen face the winner of today's game between Lehigh and Holy Cross on that team's home court. Navy has lost to both teams twice this season.

"To me, we're not a seventh-place team. We've had seventh-place luck and seventh-place issues," Navy coach Billy Lange said. "We'll play whoever they put in front of us. I'm not happy about being on another team's home court, but that's the tournament."

To have a chance at advancing, however, the Midshipmen will need to find a way to avoid the offensive and defensive lapses that hampered them in the second half.

Leading 49-48, Navy went scoreless for the next 6:13 as the Raiders (10-18, 4-10) took command with a 12-0 run behind the shooting of guards Jon Simon (25 points) and Alvin Reed (22) and forward Kendall Chones (21). The trio combined for 38 of Colgate's 42 points in the second half.

"We've been plagued all year by the same problem - second-half defense," Lange said. "Any good team needs to mix in fast-break opportunities with half-court sets. We're not the strongest half-court team ... so our offense reflects our defense."

Sprink, who scored 17 points in the first half, finished with 24, hitting just two field goals after halftime as the Midshipmen shot 35 percent.

"We didn't play our style of basketball [in the second half], but you have to give Colgate a lot of credit," forward Matt Fannin said. "They locked us up on defense in stretches."

Starting all four of its seniors playing in their final home game, Navy fell behind early but quickly recovered behind the hot perimeter shooting of Sprink.

He made three three-pointers in less than three minutes to help the Midshipmen, who had trailed by as many as six, build a 27-18 lead midway through the first half.

Navy then kept the lead by making its first 15 foul shots. After Colgate's run, however, the Midshipmen never got closer than five, during a rally in the final minute.

"If we can ever find a way to put 30-plus minutes of good basketball together, I think we'll be a tough out for any team we face in the tournament," Lange said.

COLGATE-Foss 2-6 0-0 4, Gentile 0-2 0-0 0, Daniels 0-0 6-8 6, Simon 6-10 9-12 25, Reed 8-16 3-4 22, Ky.Chones 0-2 0-0 0, Ke.Chones 7-9 7-10 21, Checovich 1-3 0-0 2, Knight 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-48 25-34 80. NAVY-Green 0-2 0-0 0, Fannin 3-5 6-9 12, Sprink 8-20 5-6 24, Hooper 0-0 0-0 0, Boatner 0-0 0-0 0, Reed 2-4 2-2 6, Johnson 3-5 4-6 11, Brigham 0-4 0-0 0, Baldwin 0-1 0-0 0, Kina 5-10 4-5 16, Teague 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 22-53 21-28 72. Half-Navy 41-38. 3-point goals-Colgate 7-19 (Simon 4-6, Reed 3-9, Foss 0-1, Checovich 0-1, Gentile 0-1, Ky.Chones 0-1), Navy 7-20 (Sprink 3-12, Kina 2-4, Teague 1-1, Johnson 1-2, Brigham 0-1). Fouled out-Brigham. Rebounds-Colgate 30 (Checovich 6), Navy 36 (Sprink 11). Assists-Colgate 15 (Checovich, Foss, Reed 3), Navy 12 (Kina 5). Total fouls-Colgate 22, Navy 26. A-1,606.

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