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Seniors lead way as Navy beats Colgate, 72-66, in Patriot League opener

Head coach Ed DeChellis said on Wednesday that he needed to get more out of Navy’s top two upperclassmen – Hasan Abdullah and George Kiernan – heading into Patriot League play.

Those two seniors responded to the challenge issued by their coach, showing up strong in the conference opener on Thursday night.

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Kiernan and Abdullah both shot lights out in scoring 20 and 18 points, respectively, to lead Navy to an impressive 72-66 victory over Colgate before an announced crowd of 643 at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.

“I’m really proud of our two seniors who played a lot of minutes tonight. George and Hasan both played very, very well, and not just offensively shooting the ball,” DeChellis said. “George really rebounded hard while Hasan did a good job of taking care of the ball and getting us into the offense. It was really the first time (this season) that both of those guys had good games (on the same night), which was important for us.”

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Kiernan was red hot in the first half and sparked Navy to a double digit lead while Abdullah warmed up in the second half and helped the home team close out the contest.

“Hasan and I have been working in the gym all throughout the break. So to be able to find better rhythm shots made the basket that much bigger,” Kiernan said.

The Navy women's basketball team began its 2018-19 Patriot League season with a 58-46 road victory over Loyola on Wednesday afternoon.

Kiernan tied a career-high with four 3-pointers and also grabbed seven rebounds for Navy (4-8), which snapped a three-game losing streak. Abdullah made four 3-pointers during the decisive second half and finished 6-for-7 from the field overall in scoring a season-high.

“That’s what coach expects and that’s our role as seniors. You have to bring it to the table,” said Abdullah, who came into the contest shooting just 30 percent from the field. How did the veteran point guard turn things around?

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“Just not thinking too much, not thinking about making or missing. Just having fun and letting things come to me.”

DeChellis said Abdullah had been launching low-percentage shots such as 3-pointers coming off screens or pull-up jumpers when challenged by a defender.

“We’ve watched a lot of tape here the last 48 hours and I thought Hasan was taking tough shots, contested shots,” DeChellis said. “We really worked the last two days on taking open shots. I thought Hasan made some step-in threes and that’s what we’ve been trying to get him to do.”

Freshman guard Greg Summers came off the bench to total 11 points and six rebounds for Navy, which was picked eighth out of 10 teams in the preseason Patriot League poll. Sophomore guard Cam Davis contributed nine points and a career-high six assists for the Midshipmen, who had lost three in a row to the Red Raiders.

“It’s a huge confidence boost,” Kiernan said. “We didn’t have the best non-conference season so it was a real big gut check tonight. It was a big, big game for us.”

Sophomore point guard Jordan Burns scored 14 points and dished off eight assists for Colgate (8-6), which was the Patriot League runner-up last season. Junior forward Will Rayman totaled 12 points and seven assists for the Red Raiders, who were picked third in the preseason poll.

“Hasan broke us down before the game and said we’re the No. 1 team in the Patriot League, regardless of what anyone thinks,” Kiernan said. “We feel like we can compete with anybody. We came out tonight the confidence and swagger that Hasan instills in all of us.”

Sophomore forward Luke Loehr gave Navy a big lift, coming off the bench to score eight points on 4-for-5 shooting. Loehr also teamed with junior forward Evan Wieck to contain Colgate forward Rapolas Ivanauskas, who was limited to 10 points. The 6-foot-10, 225-pound Northwestern transfer, only scored two points in the second half.

“We got 10 fouls out of those two guys (Loehr and Wieck) so I told them to be more aggressive and physical with (Ivanauskas),” DeChellis said. “They did a good job of bodying up and pushing him away from the basket.”

Navy men's basketball won just three games during the non-conference portion of the schedule and head coach Ed DeChellis said the team must improve in a hurry as Patriot League play gets underway.

Kiernan scored 15 points on 6-for-7 field goal shooting as Navy took a 37-25 halftime lead. He made three shots from beyond the arc in equaling his second-best scoring output of the season by intermission.

Davis had seven points and five assists for the Midshipmen, whose 37 points were the second-most in the first half this season. Navy shot a sizzling 51.7 percent (15-29) from the field and led for almost 17 of 20 minutes during the opening stanza.

Ivanauskas and Batt combined to score 15 points for Colgate, which went 0-for-15 from 3-point range and shot 29 percent (9-31) overall in the first half.

Navy saw that 12-point lead evaporate quickly in the opening minutes of the second half. The Midshipmen missed four shots and committed three turnovers in going scoreless on six straight possessions to start the half and the Red Raiders took advantage.

Burns drained 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to lead a 14-0 run that gave Colgate a 39-37 lead with just over three minutes elapsed. That was the visitor’s first lead since 6-5 less than three minutes into the game.

A 3-pointer by freshman guard Tucker Richardson – Colgate’s sixth in the first five minutes of the second half – increased the lead to five.

Abdullah suddenly got hot and swished 3-pointers on three straight possessions as the Midshipmen regained the lead and it was back-and-forth from there. The Red Raiders briefly restored their five-point lead (59-54) with 8:17 remaining, but that is when the Mids took control.

“It’s college basketball and teams are going to make runs. I’m not happy with what happened, but I think the important thing for our team was that we responded and were able to stop the run they made. Then we went on our own run,” DeChellis said.

Kiernan and Abdullah made 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to cap a lightning-quick 10-0 run that gave Navy a 64-59 lead with 5:34 left. Colgate closed within three at one point, but an acrobatic shot in the lane by Summers stemmed the tide.

“I thought Greg Summers and Luke Loehr did a great job for us. Our bench outscored their bench tonight, which is really important. We got a lot of good minutes off the bench,” DeChellis said.

“Greg Summers came in and did a great job, not only scoring but he rebounded and had some defensive intensity,” DeChellis added. “Luke is a pretty good player in the post. We’re trying to get him more playing time and get him more confident. This is only the 12th game of his college career so he’s still learning.”

The Midshipmen then made six of seven free throws in the final 41 seconds with Summers going 4-for-4.

“I think it’s a huge confidence boost. It wasn’t a great non-conference season, but gosh darn these kids came out here tonight and played hard and played well,” DeChellis said. “I’m really proud and happy for our kids because I think we played pretty good basketball tonight.”

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