AU 85, Navy 83 (OT)

(Originally posted: Friday, 10:45 p.m., Links added: Saturday, 8:24 a.m.)

LEWISBURG, Pa. – It surprised a lot of people when American put the ball in Linas Lekavicius’ hands on two straight possessions with the game on the line and the clock ticking down in overtime of the Eagles 85-83 win over Navy.

With two all-league guards who average in double figures, including the league’s leading scorer, and a guy who had knocked down five three-pointers on the way to a 30-point night on the floor, Lekavicius, who only shot 43 percent from the floor all season, hardly seemed like the logical choice to anybody but Jones.

Jones, though, obviously knew what he was doing. Or at least Lekavicius made him look like he did, scoring a pair of driving buckets to advance AU to the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament.

“He is our best one-on-one player,” Jones explained after the game. “He is the only guy that is comfortable putting it on the floor. Linas is the guy that can break down the defense.”

It’s possible there were other factors involved in Jones’ decision. Andre Ingram, that leading scorer we mentioned, was in the midst of a mediocre night in which he made only 5 of 13 from the floor. And certainly it had to go through Jones’ mind that the last guy he wanted on the foul line in that situation was Ingram, who continued his habit of choking on big free throws by missing a pair that could have sealed the game in regulation.

Then there was Jason Thomas, who justified our decision to leave him off the All Hoop Time team by having a 2-for-8 night in the Eagles biggest game of the season.

It also might have entered Jones’ mind that Navy simply had run out of people to guard Lekavicius after losing both the point guards in Billy Lange’s usual rotation, and a pair of other key players, to foul trouble.

Certainly that was what was on Lange’s mind at the postgame press conference. That and the no-call on David Hooper’s desperation three-point try at the end of the game.

“Four guys fouled out in an overtime game,” said Lange in disgust, shaking his head in disbelief as he looked at the final boxscore. “Four guys fouled out.”

And still Navy had a chance to win it when they got the ball to Hooper, who had caught fire for five second half treys to keep Navy in the game, even after Greg Sprink, who finished with 20 points, including three three-pointers, had fouled out with 4:44 to go in regulation.

Hooper appeared to be hammered on the shot, but no whistle was forthcoming and American escaped with the 1-point win.

“He should have been at the foul line,” Lange lamented. “I have no idea why they wouldn’t call it. It was a 26-foot shot for a kid who hit five threes.”

Hooper agreed. “I got hit,” he said with a sigh of resignation. “That is just how it goes.”

Early in the game, what was going was American’s Matej Cresnik, who hit four treys in the first half and was 5-for-7 from the field with 20 points at the break. Cresnik was the reason the Eagles had a 42-35 edge at the intermission.

Early in the second half, though, Navy went on a 14-4 run to take a 52-50 lead with 12:14 to go in regulation. Neither team led by more than 3 the rest of the way.

That was the spread with nine seconds to go in regulation when Ingram stepped to the line for two shots. But the first team all-league performer missed both shots.

At the other end, Navy freshman Corey Johnson’s 25-foot prayer from the middle of two AU defenders was answered, sending the game to OT.

Johnson, though, was not around to repeat his heroics at the end of overtime. He became the fourth, and final, midshipmen to foul out with 42 seconds to go.

With the win, AU advances to a semifinal meeting with No. 2 seed Bucknell, which romped to an easy win over Lafayette in the nightcap.
Box Score | Baltimore Sun | Washington Post

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

©2005 Hoop Time. All rights reserved.