xml:space="preserve">

It seemed the Navy men’s basketball team was fighting uphill the entire game during Friday night’s home opener against East Carolina.

The Midshipmen got over the hump when it mattered most – at crunch time.

Advertisement

Junior guard Cam Davis and sophomore swingman Greg Summers took over down the stretch as Navy rallied to defeat East Carolina, 62-57, in the nightcap of the sixth annual Veterans Classic before an announced crowd of 4,549 at Alumni Hall.

Davis and Summers combined to score 16 of the final 19 points for the Midshipmen, who trailed 47-43 with just over six minutes remaining.

Davis finished with a team-high 14 points for Navy (1-1), which won for just the second time in six games as host of the Veteran’s Classic. Summers made 9 of 12 free throws in scoring 13 points for the Mids, who outscored the Pirates 39-28 in the second half.

“Honestly, in the first half, we weren’t attacking the basket as much. Down the stretch, we realized that we needed to be more aggressive,” Summer said. “Lanes opened up, opportunities were taken, and we made our baskets.”

Sophomore swingman John Carter Jr. notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Navy, which took the lead for good on a couple foul shots by Summers with 5:23 to go in the game.

Junior forward Luke Loehr swished three 3-pointers in scoring 11 points, and also grabbed six rebounds, as the Midshipmen closed the contest on a 19-10 run.

“Tonight, we were struggling. We were crawling and scratching and doing whatever we could do,” Navy head coach Ed DeChellis said. “I kept telling them at every timeout to just hang in there, make a play and put it back on them so they have to make a play. I thought our guys did a good job of hanging in there.”

Davis started the decisive stretch by converting a three-point play at the 6:05 mark, scoring off a driving layup and drawing a foul. His subsequent free throw cut the deficit to 47-46 and just over half a minute later the Midshipmen held a one-point lead after Summers made two free throws.

Davis drained a pullup jumper from the baseline and Alec Loehr made a layup as Navy’s advantage grew to 54-49. Those two baskets were set up outstanding defensive plays as Alec Loehr swiped a steal then Summers followed with a steal of his own. Moments earlier, freshman Sean Yoder created a turnover by taking a charge.

Davis scored off a strong drive to the basket with 1:12 remaining then calmly drained two free throws with 14 seconds left. Summers closed out the victory by rebounding a missed shot on East Carolina’s final possession and making two foul shots on the other end with 2.2 seconds to go.

“Navy did a great job toward the end of being aggressive and driving it. I thought we didn’t sustain our defensive intensity for long enough on a lot of possessions over the last 10 minutes or so,” East Carolina head coach Joe Dooley said. “I thought our offensive poise at the end was poor. We got a little disoriented and our freshmen point guards played liked freshmen.”

Finding a way to win at the end spelled progress for Navy, which led by three points in the final minute at George Mason on Tuesday night and wound up losing in overtime.

“We’re growing as a team, although this season is in its infancy. The other night we were in the same position and didn’t make the plays,” DeChellis said. “For me, it was nice to see those two guys (Davis and Summers) step up and make some plays and propel us to the win.”

Navy has played some serious heavyweights in past editions of the Veteran’s Classic, losing to Michigan State, (2014), Florida (2015), Ohio State (2016) and Maryland (2018). Navy’s only previous victory came against Pittsburgh in 2017.

Advertisement

“It feels good to win in this event. It’s a big deal to these kids and it’s a big deal for the program because it’s our thing,” DeChellis said.

Sophomore forward Jayden Gardner scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead East Carolina (1-1), which shot just 40 percent (22-for-54) from the field and committed 19 turnovers. Senior forward Seth LeDay added 11 points for the Pirates, who led for almost 27 minutes and by as much as eight on two occasions.

“We had two leads of eight points, and we need to be able to extend,” Dooley said. “It’s a tribute to (the Midshipmen), they just kept grinding and made some big plays when the game was on the line.”

East Carolina made just 5 of 18 3-point attempts and got 36 of 57 points out of three players – Gardner, LeDay and JJ Miles (10).

“I’m very pleased with our performance on defense. That’s what we pride ourselves on. That’s one of our three pillars,” Davis said. “We played really good defense tonight. Holding a team like that, which is really athletic and has a lot of skilled players to 57 points, that’s tremendous defense on our part. We got the stops when we needed to get stops.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement