ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Princeton’s Matt Allocco’s last-second attempt from halfcourt narrowly missed its mark to allow the Navy (2-0) men’s basketball team to hang on for a 74-73 victory over the Tigers (0-2), Friday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.
The game was the second in the ninth annual Veterans Classic. The evening’s first game saw No. 3 Houston defeat Saint Joseph’s 81-55.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis, “Hopefully, as a team we learned something.”
The Navy-Princeton game featured sizable runs from both teams. The Tigers took a 9-2 lead at the very start, only to see the Mids go on a 39-9 run and build a 41-18 advantage with a little more than three minutes left in the first half.
After Navy took a 46-26 lead at the break thanks to 72 percent shooting from the field, Princeton opened the second half on a 20-4 run to close to within four points at 50-46 with 13:33 showing on the clock.
The Mids regained a little of their halftime cushion as it soon was a 64-50 lead at the seven-minute mark.
Princeton, the 2022 Ivy League regular season champions, climbed right back into the game as it became a two-point contest at 66-64 with three minutes left, then a one-point game at 68-67 with 1:54 still to play.
Navy pushed the advantage to six points following a floater in the lane from Austin Begnini (Fr., The Woodlands, Texas), a steal by Austin Inge (Jr., Greensboro, N.C.), and a three-point basket by Patrick Dorsey (Sr., Raleigh, N.C.) with just under 60 seconds remaining.
Allocco sliced that margin in half with a three-point basket on the ensuing Princeton possession. The Mids worked the ball around, and eventually, Sean Yoder was fouled with 26.5 seconds left. He missed the first foul shot but made the second to give Navy a 74-70 lead.
A crazy sequence occurred on the next Princeton offensive opportunity. The Tigers sent the ball in the lane to Keeshawn Kellman. He tried to dunk the ball, but Nate Allison blocked his effort at the rim (Sr., Fayetteville, Ga.). The loose ball was knocked around between players before Allocco picked it up and drained a three-point basket from just to the left of the top of the key. His triple made the score 74-73 with 3.6 seconds left. Navy called timeout as it had trouble inbounding the ball.
When play resumed, Inge threw a pass toward halfcourt that Sean Yoder (Sr., Dublin, Pa.) tried to go back toward, but his progress was impeded by Allocco, who was called for a foul. The officials checked the clock before Yoder stepped to the line, and they played 3.3 seconds on the board.
Yoder missed the first attempt, then was instructed to miss the second as Princeton was out of timeouts. He did as was told, and Tosan Evbuomwan grabbed the carom and tossed it to Allocco on the right side of the court. Dorsey shadowed Allocco as he progressed from the free throw lane to halfcourt. His runner from just over midcourt was just wide.
Navy’s 72-percent shooting effort in the first half dwindled to 33 percent in the second half. Conversely, Princeton went from a 46 percent showing in the first half to a 60 percent mark in the second. The Tigers opened the second half 9-9 from the floor.
“In the first half,:” said DeChellis, “we defended well. We shared the ball; we scored with the ball. The first four minutes were critical in the second half, and we did not come out of the locker room as we needed to. We gave them hope; they are tough, competitive kids who want to win too. They came at us and scored at will.
“I am proud of our team for making plays down the stretch to win the game.”
Princeton outrebounded Navy 34-25 for the game, which included an 11-3 edge on the offensive glass. The Tigers held a 14-0 advantage in second-chance points.
Navy will continue its season Monday at Coppin State.