TOWSON, Md. — Christian Jones (Sr., Bowie, Md.) and Nate Allison (Sr., Fayetteville, Ga.) each set career highs in totaling a combined 34 points during a 71-69 overtime victory by the Navy (6-4) men’s basketball team at Towson (8-3), Sunday afternoon at SECU Arena in Towson, Md.
“I am really proud of our kids,” said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. “This has been a tough stretch for us (four-straight road game in 12 days). Towson came into our building last year and beat us pretty good. This game was going to be a mirror of our game Wednesday at West Virginia; it was going to be a tough, physical game. Pat (Skerry) does a great job with his team. They are tough, they really guard you, they rebound, they have a big, physical older team. We had to play to that level of physicality ourselves and I thought we did that.”
Points were at a premium in the early going as both teams went nearly five minutes without making a field goal. Each team would hold the lead for just over eight minutes in the half, which ended with Towson in front, 35-27. The Mids twice held a five-point lead and were in front, 25-22, when the Tigers went on a 13-0 run to jump in front, 35-25. An Allison dunk just before halftime made the score 35-27 at the break.
Navy opened the second half on an 11-2 run — with seven of those points coming from Jones — to take a 38-37 less than five minutes into the stanza. The lead was exchanged five more times in short order, with the last trade coming when Towson used a 9-0 run to build a 49-42 lead.
The Mids gradually played their way back into the game and a Jones triple pulled them to within 55-53. Jones then knotted the game at 56-56 when he drained another shot from beyond the arc with 2:27 remaining.
Both teams missed shots on their next respective possessions, then Towson’s Nicolas Timberlake made a field goal while driving to the basket and being fouled. He made the free throw to give the Tigers a 59-56 lead with 1:52 remaining. The Mids scored back-to-back field goals sandwiched around a Towson offensive foul that put Navy in front, 60-59, at the one-minute mark.
The Tigers missed a three-point shot on their ensuing possession, with the rebound being knocked out of bounds by the Mids with 42.9 seconds left. Towson scored on the inbounds pass to regain a 61-60 lead.
Navy’s next possession ended when Sean Yoder (Sr., Dublin, Pa.) was blocked at the rim. The Tigers grabbed the loose ball and had a runout. Nygal Russel was fouled on the drive with 21.6 seconds remaining. He made the first foul shot and missed the second. Yoder grabbed the rebound and the ball quickly crossed the court. Yoder soon made a baseline drive and had a short attempt that sailed went over the rim. Allison snared the carom and sored on the putback to tie the game at 62-62 with 8.2 seconds left.
Towson called timeout, then Navy did. Play resumed when Cameron Holden inbounded the ball. It was immediately sent back to him and he eventually drove down the right half of the lane before trying to send the ball to Timberlake. The pass was knocked out of bounds by the Mids with 1.2 seconds left. Towson called timeout, during which the Navy coaches subbed in Aidan Kehoe (Fr., Montvale, N.J.) for the first time this season to guard the inbounder. The 6-10 freshman batted away the inbounds pass to keep the Tigers from attempting a shot before the clock expired.
The Tigers turned the ball over on their first possession of overtime, then Yoder found Allison cutting down the lane for a layup for the first points of the extra period. Towson eventually tied the game on a pair of free throws, then another triple by Jones followed by a layup by Allison made the score 69-64 in favor of Navy with 1:41 left to play.
Timberlake responded with a basket (69-66, 1:17), then Austin Benigni (Fr., The Woodlands, Texas) made a nifty move to get Holden to foul him above the top of the key with 59.3 seconds left. He converted both foul shots to give Navy a 71-66 lead. Towson made it a 71-69 game when Ryan Conway drilled a three-point shot with 42.9 seconds still to play.
Navy was deliberate on its next possession, but wound up being too deliberate as the Mids turned the ball over on a shot clock violation without being able to get a shot away. That left 12.9 seconds showing on the clock. Out of timeouts and inbounding 94 feet away from its basket, Towson’s Holden again advanced the ball over halfcourt. This time, Timberlake would eventually try a mid-range jumper from just above the high post that missed its mark as the game clock expired.
Navy made more field goals (29-23) and three-point field goals (7-6) than Towson, but the Tigers were 17-24 from the foul line in contrast to the 6-8 effort by the Mids. Both teams grabbed 34 rebounds and Navy forced 18 turnovers while committing 14 of its own.
Jones made four three-point field goals and finished 8-14 from the floor in all in scoring 20 points and bettering his career high of 17. Allison was 7-9 from the field in totaling 14 points to best his previous career high of seven points. Each player — and Yoder — also grabbed seven caroms to additionally set career highs for rebounds. Benigni added 10 points and Patrick Dorsey (Sr., Raleigh, N.C.) dished out five assists.
:”We had guys step up,” said DeChellis. “Chris Jones, Nate Allison; they made big plays for us. Austin Benigni off the bench. We had contributions from everybody. Aidan Kehoe; we put him on the ball and he got the tip. That was a big play that goes unnoticed. For us, that was a big play in that we didn’t have to guard the baseline.
“Total team effort.”
Navy will play host to Washington (Md.) Dec. 18.