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College Sports

Lockdown defensive effort lifts Navy men’s basketball past Boston University, 63-45

Boston University inbound pass. Navy vs Boston University Mens basketball Wednesday january 18, 2023 at USNA.

A pair of struggling Patriot League programs met Wednesday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.

Host Navy had lost five straight, a skid that started with subpar defense and then continued due to inferior offense. Meanwhile, visiting Boston University came in having lost three in a row and five of the last seven.

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It was somewhat surprising considering the Terriers and Midshipmen were picked to place second and fourth, respectively, in the preseason Patriot League poll.

One team was going to slide further to the bottom of the conference standings, while the other was going to gain some much-needed confidence.

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Sean Yoder led a balanced attack with 14 points, while fellow senior wing guard Patrick Dorsey spearheaded a suffocating defensive effort with three steals as Navy beat Boston University, 63-45, for its first victory since the calendar flipped to 2023.

Senior forward Daniel Deaver totaled 13 points and eight rebounds, while Dorsey added 11 points for the Midshipmen (9-10, 2-5), whose only wins in Patriot League play have come against the Terriers.

“I think we just came out with the right energy and belief, We came out playing with confidence, playing as a team and it all came together,” Dorsey said. “We’re a good basketball team and we know that. We were just in a little rut.”

Senior guard Christian Jones came off the bench to chip in eight points for Navy, which worked hard on the defensive end and made it difficult for the visitors to run offense. Boston shot 38% from the field (17-for-45) and committed a season-high 23 turnovers.

“I think we were really connected on the defensive end and guys just played their tails off,” Dorsey said. “We’ve been working really hard in practice trying to get better on the defensive end because obviously that’s been a weakness.”

Graduate student forward Walter Whyte, Boston’s leading scorer, was limited to seven points on 2-for-10 shooting. The Terriers did not have a single player reach double figures in scoring.

It marked the lowest point total allowed by the Midshipmen this season.

Navy head coach Ed DeChellis noted that last season’s squad ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense, giving up 61 points per game. Going into Wednesday night’s game, the Midshipmen stood No. 218 in that category, allowing an average of almost 71 points.

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“I thought we played Navy defense tonight. Obviously, I haven’t been happy with [the defense] at all,” said DeChellis, noting the coaching staff made some fundamental changes recently. “This is the best defensive output we’ve had for 40 minutes all season. You hold that team to 45 points — that’s pretty special.”

One of the defensive adjustments involved ball screens and Boston University head coach Joe Jones said it was noticeable. DeChellis was pleased the Midshipmen did not allow the Terriers to drive the ball to the basket, settling for perimeter jumpers instead.

“Navy came out and was really aggressive. They hedged hard on the ball screens and we had a hard time getting into any flow,” Jones said. “They did a great job of staying between us and the basket. We couldn’t beat them off the dribble when we tried. It was probably one of the best defensive efforts we’ve played against all season.”

Dorsey made his second straight start after coming off the bench for the previous 17 games. DeChellis looked carefully at the season statistics in deciding to move the versatile 6-foot-5 swingman out of the sixth-man role.

“Analytics say that’s our most consistent offensive lineup and our best defensive lineup,” DeChellis said. “Dorsey gives us some more length and he gets his hands on some balls. We just thought we needed some more activity defensively.”

Freshman Mike Woods played 20 minutes against Boston after having logged just over 26 minutes in six games up until now. The Upper Marlboro resident and Frederick Douglass High product responded with six points on 3-for-3 shooting and solid defense.

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“We needed some more athleticism on the floor and he’s an athletic dude,” DeChellis said of Woods. “He’s had some good practices where he’s driven the ball and guarded.”

Yoder, Woods and senior forward Tyler Nelson took turns guarding Whyte, who came into the contest averaging almost 15 points. That trio of defenders did a good job of keeping the beefy 6-foot-6 power forward out of the paint.

Deaver and Yoder combined for 13 points as Navy took a 29-18 halftime lead. Woods provided a spark off the bench and made his field goal attempts as the Mids used an 11-4 run to gain separation late in the half.

Navy played lockdown defense, holding Boston to 32% (7-for-22) field goal shooting. It marked the sixth time in seven conference contests the Terriers have faced a double-digit deficit.

Senior guard Christian Jones hit a pull-up jumper and a 3-pointer then junior point guard Austin Inge followed with a steal and layup as Navy used a 7-0 run to push the advantage to 39-26, at the 13:19 mark of the second half.

Boston called a timeout to regroup then responded with a 7-0 run to get back within seven points. However, Dorsey and Yoder combined to score 12 points during a 16-5 run that gave Navy its largest lead, 58-40, with 3:33 remaining in the game.

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It was a much-needed win for Navy, which next travels to West Point for Saturday’s showdown with archrival Army (11-9, 5-2). The Black Knights are tied for second place in the Patriot League, while the Midshipmen are now in a three-way tie for seventh place based on tiebreakers.

“We lost five in a row, so we can win five in a row. In this league, anybody can beat anybody,” DeChellis said.

“We’re a veteran team with a lot of seniors, a lot of good leadership. We know it’s a long season and, at the end of the day, this [league] is going to be decided by three games in March,” Dorsey added.


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