Men’s Basketball Loses to Navy and Syracuse

sports-loses-to-navy-mensbasketballHead Coach King Rice Ejected From Navy Game and Suspended Against Syracuse

The  men’s basketball team fell far from the pedestal of glory this past week as they endured a tough 85-66 loss against Navy and a 108-56 loss to the Syracuse Orange.

Head coach King Rice was ejected from the Navy game after receiving his second technical foul and criticized the officials in the post-game press conference, resulting in a suspension for the Syracuse game. 

The last time MU played Navy was almost a year ago, when the Hawks won 69-67. This time, looking for redemption and a chance to reach .500, Navy gained the early lead.

Within the first seven minutes of play, Navy was ahead by seven points with a score of 16-9.

The Hawks gained their first lead with 12:30 left in the half when senior forward Stephen Spinella dunked the ball to take a 20-19 lead. This basket sparked MU as they were able to dominate the rest of the half. Within the last ten minutes of play, both freshman guard Christian White, Spinella and sophomore guard Andrew Nicholas each sank a three pointer giving the Hawks a 37-32 lead at half.

Winning the first half battle was largely due to their persistent defense. Sophomore Max DiLeo said,“They got some fast breaks and we were trying to get back,” DiLeo said. “Fortunately, our teammates bought each other enough time so one of us could get back to block.”

MU entered the second half strong as they furthered their lead 37-32 within the first 30 seconds of play, but came close to losing their lead within seven minutes of play as Navy’s star Kendall Knorr made his free throws.

Senior forward Ed Waite gave MU come comfort room as he pushed the lead to three at 50-47. Twenty-five seconds after Waite’s basket, the Hawks found themselves behind Navy at 51-50.

Navy then sank another shot, bringing the game to 53-50. MU was able to tie the game up with a three point shot from Nicholas forcing the scoreboard to read 53-53; this would be the last time the Hawks were close to their opponent.

In the blink of an eye, Navy seized the game. Taking their first ten point lead as the clock read 8:39, Knorr took over the court.

MU quickly attempted to cut their lead by two, but Navy fought back and with 6:35 left in the game, the Hawks were still losing by ten points at 67-57. A questionable call was made by head official Brian Dorsey with 6:23 left in the game.

A single minute had passed since the call was made and MU let their deficit increase to a 16 point margin of 75-59.

By the one minute warning, the Hawk’s aspirations of victory was crushed by a 19 point gap. Navy scored the last basket of the game with 21 seconds left, securing the final score at 85-66.

As Rice reflected upon the game, he was left with nothing but sadness and fury that he, not his team, did not perform to the fullest ability.

“We got totally embarrassed by the Navy team,” Rice said. “The better team won tonight. It is my fault that I did not have our team ready to play to the level that they needed to be ready to play. I should have done a better job of coaching them throughout the day. When the head coach doesn’t get it done, then the team gets embarrassed 85-66.”

While the overall team played poorly, personal accomplishments were achieved. Nicholas played for 32 minutes while posting 15 points, nine of those coming from 3 pointers alone.

Spinella also played very well as he was on the court for a total of 21 minutes while having a career high three assists and 16 points in the game.

Another noteworthy name was senior forward Marcus Ware. Ware played for a total 24 minutes in which he was able to accumulate 13 points.

Although a loss will take its toll on the team, Spinella believes they can overcome this difficult ending against Navy.

“A loss is going to hurt you one way or another,” Spinella said. “We are good at bouncing back, we have shown that. From here on out, we just have to know what it feels like to lose like tonight. We cannot settle. I think that is what we did coming into this game which is uncalled for.”

With the loss against Navy, MU’s record stood at 5-4.

Their next game was Saturday against the fourth best basketball team in the nation, Syracuse. Assistant coach Rick Callahan assumed the head coach position for one night due to Rice’s suspension.

Waite led the team at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night with ten points accompanied by eight rebounds while teammate Gary Cox notched nine points for the Hawks. Khalil Brown’s eight points proved a season high.

Nicholas helped MU gain an early 5-4 lead over the Orange as he scored all five points. The Orange were quick to retaliate as they sank two three-pointers making it a 10-5 game.

MU scored the next six points in order to regain the lead at 11-10. With 10:32 showing, the game stood at an even 19-19.

At 9:35, the scoreboard showed 24-21 but Syracuse quickly captivated the game as they were able to score 25 points in the next seven minutes while MU could only connect with the hoop twice.

By half, the Hawks were down 57-28. As the first three minutes passed in the second half, Syracuse increased their lead by 20 with the scoreboard showing 70-30.

The rest of the half was dominated by the Orange as they increased the point gap to 57 with 2:55 remaining in the game. The final score posted 108-56 in Syracuse’s favor.

With this win, Syracuse remains fourth best in the nation as well as continuing their 28-game home winning streak and their undefeated 8-0 season.

With this loss, the Hawks come to an even 5-5 record.

Next, MU heads to the Comcast Center this Wednesday night to face the 8-1 University of Maryland Terrapins.

They host Villanova at the MAC on December 22 at 7 pm.