Columbia shot down Navy 69-63 on Monday night in Alumni Hall. The loss marked the third straight game the Mids have lost by 6 points or less. Navy was in scoring led by Matt Fannin and Greg Sprink who dropped in 16 and 13 respectively. Columbia shot 50% in the second half with forward Matt Preston leading the way with 23 points on the night.
This was the third straight close game for Navy
, but unlike the others, it cannot be considered a moral victory for Billy Lange's troops. Navy was not oversized, if anything the Mids had the size advantage. Navy appeared quicker and more athletic than Columbia, but was unable to capitalize on this as Columbia slowed the pace of the game. Columbia also focused their defense on the inside presence of Matt Fannin
and George O'Garro and forced the Mids to convert from the outside. This seems to be the strategy of most opponents and will continue to be until Navy's outside shooting can improve. The Mids once again struggled from the outside shooting only 20% (5-25) from behind the arch. Shooting guard David Hooper
was 1-10 and Greg Sprink 1-7 from downtown. Fannin was solid from the inside but was only 4-10 from the foul line, which hurt the Mids during some key runs down the stretch. Navy also continued their turnover struggle as they gave the ball away 22 times.
Navy's defense continues to be solid and they show a lot of hustle for 40 straight minutes. They have stretches where there offense looks impressive, but these streaks are often followed by severe droughts where the Mids are held scoreless for minutes at a time. This is what occurred at the end of the first half as Navy did not score for the last three minutes of the half. Columbia went on an 8-0 run and took a five-point lead into the break.
Once again Navy showed a lot of fight as they fought back from a double-digit deficit with just under three minutes to go. They cut it to four with a three-pointer by junior forward Mike Higgins, but for a third straight game it was too little too late.
Navy travels to Holy Cross on Friday and Army on Sunday, still looking for their first Patriot League victory.