Navy completed its second straight season sweep of Loyola with a dominant 71-51 victory on Wednesday night. The win was the Mids tenth on the road this year, taking Navy to 10-2 on its travels and already setting a program record for most road wins in a season. Coming into this contest the Mids had been 1-4 over their last five games in a slump that was threatening to ruin a promising season. With their backs against the wall however Navy played one of its most complete games all year to put this one away before halftime.
Here is a look back at the three keys for Wednesday night’s game:
1. Defense defense defense – Pass
This was a monster defensive effort from the Mids. Head coach Ed DeChellis commented, “Our kids were focused and played really hard on both ends of the floor. We made some shots and that fueled our defense on the other end." Whether it was the shots falling, or just a more intense defensive performance, the Mids completely locked down Loyola in the first half. It took a desperate three-point heave at the end of the half for the Greyhounds to reach just 19 points and that, plus the fact the home side was help to just 33% from the field for the game, should tell you everything you need to know about the Navy defensive dominance in this one.
2. Shoot the three ball better – Pass
Coming into this Navy was hitting an average of just under four three-point baskets per game while rocking a Patriot League low 28.3% field goal rate from behind the arc. On Wednesday the Mids were better, much better from downtown as they went 7-of-16 as a team, good for 43.8% accuracy. Most of the sharpshooting came from starting guards Tilman Dunbar (3-of-4) and Shawn Anderson (2-of-4) and Navy just seemed to be much more relaxed and more patient with how they attacked the basket. This is even more obvious when you look at total field goal percentage as see that Navy was shooting 57.4% for the game.
3. Shoot free throws better – Fail
While many things went right for the Mids on Wednesday night the team’s trouble at the foul line continues. Navy came into the game last in the Patriot League in free throw percentage, making just 64.7% of its shots from the charity stripe. Somehow this actually got worse against Loyola as Navy was 10-of-17 from the line, shooting just 58.8%. Obviously in this game it didn’t hurt Navy at all because the rest of the Mids play was so solid. Free throw issues have a horrible habit of cropping up at just the wrong time and if Navy is looking to make a run in the Patriot League Tournament then the team as a whole must be better from the line.