Sprink Douses Navy’s Drought

Ca­reer-High 36 Points Helps End Mids’ 17-Year Skid at AU; Hawks Edge Colo­nials

The Washington Post - - College Basketball - By Steven Goff

Greg Sprink scored a ca­reer-high 36 points last night and, in the process, helped Navy end a 17-year win­less drought at Amer­i­can’s Ben­der Arena.

Sprink con­trib­uted at least 20 points for the sev­enth con­sec­u­tive game — the first time a Mid­ship­man has ac­com­plished that feat since David Robin­son did it 13 times in early 1987 — as Navy pulled away in the fi­nal six min­utes to earn a 77-66 Pa­triot League vic­tory be­fore 1,012 spectators.

The Mid­ship­men had not won in Wash­ing­ton since 1991 and had dropped 14 of their pre­vi­ous 15 meet­ings over­all with the Ea­gles. Last week, Navy (10-11, 3-3) ended a 17-game los­ing streak to Holy Cross.

“It feels good to get the points, but I am more im­pressed with the win,” said Sprink, who is av­er­ag­ing 28.2 points per game in league play.

Be­cause the se­nior swing­man made just 6 of 18 shots in a two­point loss to Army on Sun­day, “I think this was im­por­tant to him,” Navy Coach Billy Lange said. “I thought he had good fo­cus, he played with good pas­sion, good lead­er­ship.”

Sprink, who en­tered the game shoot­ing 86 per­cent from the free throw line, made 17 of 18 against the Ea­gles (11-10, 3-3), who lost at home for the sec­ond time in five days. He has made 67 of his last 73. Last night he scored 18 points in each half, had 13 of Navy’s fi­nal 17 points and added four steals.

Brian Gil­more scored 16 points and Travis Lay 15 for the Ea­gles, who shot 30 per­cent in the sec­ond half, com­mit­ted 17 turnovers and wasted a 47-31 re­bound­ing ad­van­tage.

“It was prob­a­bly our worst per­for­mance of the year,” AU Coach Jeff Jones said.

Navy led most of the first half, build­ing its ad­van­tage to six on sev­eral oc­ca­sions. Sprink made two of his first three three-point­ers, but also missed a break­away at­tempt when he seemed in­de­ci­sive whether to lay it in or dunk. He added a three-point play and hit 8 of 9 free throws, in­clud­ing a pair with about 31⁄ min­utes to go to pro­vide a 33-28 lead.

The Mid­ship­men were 13 of 15 from the line in the half, but had no field goals in the fi­nal five min­utes and poor re­bound­ing al­lowed the Ea­gles to end the half on a 9-2 run and forge a 37-35 lead.

But Chris Har­ris, av­er­ag­ing 25 points over the past three games, scored eight shortly af­ter the break and Ka­leo Kina added seven as the Mid­ship­men built an eight-point edge. While that tran­spired, AU shot 1 of 10 and had five turnovers dur­ing an 81⁄ minute stretch.

The Ea­gles re­grouped to draw within two, but Navy an­swered with seven straight points, capped by Sprink’s drive with 5 min­utes 40 sec­onds left. When AU made an­other run, Sprink scored his team’s next nine points.

His pre­vi­ous ca­reer high was 34 against Brown two sea­sons ago.

“He is kind of a hy­brid — he’s very strong and he can post up, so if you put a smaller guy on him he re­ally hurts you inside,” Jones said. “He can shoot the three, but the thing that re­ally ties it al­to­gether, he can put the ball on the floor as well.”

Notes: Gar­ri­son Carr’s three three-point­ers left him three short of Frank Ross’s sin­gle-sea­son AU record of 86, set in 1986-87.

SAINT JOSEPH’S 61, GE­ORGE WASH­ING­TON 59: Pat Calathes scored 21 points, in­clud­ing the go-ahead bas­ket late in the game, to give Saint Joseph’s a 61-59 win over strug­gling Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton at Smith Cen­ter.

Rob Fer­gu­son and Ah­mad Nivins each had 15 points for the Hawks (13-5, 5-1 At­lantic 10), who won their fourth straight.

Rob Diggs had 20 points on 10for-10 shoot­ing and 10 re­bounds be­fore foul­ing out for the Colo­nials (511, 1-5), who lost their fifth straight.

The Hawks took the lead for good at 51-49 on Calathes’s bas­ket with five min­utes left. The Hawks stretched the lead to 59-51, but the Colo­nials fought back and cut the lead to 60-59 on a three-pointer by Noel Wil­more with 2.2 sec­onds left.

Af­ter a free throw by Gar­rett Wil­liamson gave the Hawks a 61-59 lead, Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton failed to com­plete a long in­bounds pass as time ex­pired.

Tasheed Carr had six as­sists in his first start for the Hawks af­ter miss­ing four games with a sprained right an­kle. He came into the game lead­ing the con­fer­ence with 6.6 as­sists per game.

Mau­reece Rice is hit from be­hind by Ah­mad Nivins of Saint Joseph’s while go­ing af­ter an in­bounds pass with GW trail­ing by two in the fi­nal sec­onds.

PHO­TOS BY JONATHAN NEW­TON — THE WASH­ING­TON POST

GW’s coach­ing staff and stu­dents protest for a foul on the pass to Rice, the fi­nal play of the Colo­nials’ loss. GW’s Her­mann Opoku is in the fore­ground.

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