American's Garrison Carr had not scored for 10 minutes, an untimely second-half drought in an otherwise excellent performance last night at Navy.
But with his team trailing by two, the senior sharp-shooter took advantage of his defender falling with 31 seconds left and swished his seventh three-pointer to lift the Eagles to a 68-67 victory before an announced 2,675 at Alumni Hall.
In the first four Patriot League games, Carr was 8-for-28 on three-pointers, but in a fast-paced encounter against the Midshipmen, he found the space to score 28 points and help the Eagles (12-7, 4-1) keep pace with Holy Cross (10-11, 5-1).
Despite overcoming a 12-point deficit in the second half to lead by three, Navy (14-7, 3-3) lost its second straight.
"We chased him all over the floor," Midshipmen coach Billy Lange said of Carr, who made seven of 11 three-point attempts and 10 of 16 shots overall. "Their offense is like a warm blanket for him; he is just very comfortable with it."
Navy led 67-65 and had the ball, but Adam Teague missed a long jumper with 45 seconds left. Before the Midshipmen were able to set their defense, Carr received the ball beyond the top of the key. Kaleo Kina, who had 26 points for Navy, lost his footing, which provided the league's most dangerous shooter with an unimpeded look at the basket.
"I saw that Kina fell down, and when I came off the screen, the big guy [from Navy helping on the play] wasn't close enough, so I had room to shoot it," Carr said.
Said Kina: "He swept through, and I went to step with his sweep, and I just fell down. He came off the pick and hit the three - tough shot and he made it."
American had botched the same play on the previous possession but this time executed perfectly.
"We can talk about X's and O's and everything else, but the game very well may have come down to the fact that Kina fell down and we got an open shot," Eagles coach Jeff Jones said.
The Midshipmen had three opportunities to regain the lead, but Chris Harris missed on the baseline, Kina's one-hander was off target with four seconds left, and after Carr missed a free throw, Harris' 30-footer hit the rim.
The teams shot at a torrid pace in the first half - American at 57 percent and Navy at 58 percent. Kina slashed into the lane or fired a three-pointer at every opportunity, and the Eagles used the distant shooting threats by Carr and Brian Gilmore.