#7 American Stuns #2 Navy in the Patriot League Tournament Quarterfinals
By: Ethan Hennessy
Navy hosted American for the second straight year in the Quarterfinals of the Patriot League Men’s Basketball Tournament. Last year the Midshipmen defeated the Eagles 71-64. In 2023 American got their revenge.
The teams traded baskets early, but Navy started getting into a rhythm of making great cuts to the basket on the offensive end and began establishing a lead midway through the first half. American countered when their starters came back and took the lead with under two and a half minutes left in the first half thanks to a corner three from Johnny O’Neil on a post pass from Matt Rodgers. The Eagles fans that had journeyed to Alumni Hall stood up an showed their support for their team. The run did not stop there American closed the half on a 18-2 run that lasted over six minutes of game time. This gave the Eagles a 33-27 advantage going into halftime.
In the second half both teams struggled to score and the game felt choppy with lots of stoppages for foul calls. Navy went on a stretch of over six minutes where they didn’t score from about the 11:00 mark to almost 5:00. American was doing a good job of sending a second defender when Daniel Deaver touched the ball in the post to make him pass it out because Deaver’s strength allowed him to back down the leaner Rodgers in single coverage. American also had their own scoring drought lasting over three minutes until Matt Rodgers hit his signature hook shot with 90 seconds left. American coach Mike Brennan said he was telling his guys to stick with it during the scoring droughts “I don’t care about if a shot goes it. Are we getting good looks? Are we doing what we practice? Are we making them work for what they get? If we do and they make some tough shots, okay.”
With American up three out of a timeout Connor Nelson hit a massive deep three pointer for American to put them up six with 39 seconds to play. American’s inability to convert free throws at the end of the game gave Navy a chance to take the lead down one with 12.5 seconds. However, the Mids could not get a decent look after the ball was deflected into the backcourt. They had to settle with a half-court heave that was off the mark. American celebrated pulling off the upset.
Up next for American they will face the six seed Lafayette in Easton Pennsylvania in the Patriot League Tournament Semifinals at 4 PM on CBS Sports Network. When I asked Mike Brennan for his thoughts on Lafayette after the game he said “They beat us back at our place. They switch. O’Boyle has obviously been a beast and a monster in this league for a while… and they just beat a really good team so they’re going to be ready.”
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