ANNAPOLIS, FEB. 11 -- American University and Navy have been frequent losers in recent weeks. Facing each other, both teams had a rare chance to win one tonight and both devoted extra energy toward that aim before the Eagles prevailed in overtime, 86-79.
It was only the second victory in nine games for American, which had lost three in a row. Navy has dropped five straight and 10 of 11, the only success in that stretch coming at American Jan. 26.
Brock Wortman scored seven of his 18 points in the extra period, putting American (10-12, 5-6 in the Colonial Athletic Association) ahead to stay with a three-pointer on its first possession. Teammate Brian Gilgeous had six of his 17 in overtime.
American probably would have lost in regulation but for a superb performance by senior guard Fred Tillman, who scored a season-high 17 points in only his fourth start. He did a good defensive job in limiting Erik Harris to six baskets in 14 shots.
"Fred Tillman was the key for us," said American Coach Chris Knoche. "He did a nice job offensively, which he's capable of but doesn't always do. And he also did a great job harassing Navy's ball handlers."
Lance Reinhard had a game-high 19 points for Navy (6-17, 2-9), hitting six three-pointers. But the Midshipmen were hampered in overtime because their top two scorers, Harris and Eddie Reddick, fouled out in the second half.
Nick Marusich played strongly underneath for Navy, with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while senior Mel Davis provided considerable spark with 12 points, including the shot that forced overtime, and two acrobatic blocks. But Navy, the CAA free-throw percentage leader, was 15 of 29 from the line.
The Midshipmen seemed headed for a second conquest of American when they took a 14-2 lead and expanded it to 25-9. However, the Eagles closed within 30-25 by halftime, then went up by 58-52.
Navy was struggling because Reddick fouled out with 15:32 left in the second half, after committing four fouls in the first 4:28 following the intermission. The entire Navy team drew only four in the first half.
"They came so fast I couldn't get him out quick enough," said Navy Coach Pete Herrmann.
Still, the Midshipmen battled back to tie at 65, 67, 70 and 72. With 11 seconds left and Navy down, 70-67, Reinhard threw in a tough three-pointer, and Gilgeous fouled him.
An 81 percent foul shooter, Reinhard missed the tie-breaker. Then Harris fouled Gilgeous on the rebound and was gone with No. 5.
After Gilgeous made both shots, Davis drove the length of the floor for the tying basket. Most of the 1,056 fans were celebrating, but without Reddick and Harris the Midshipmen went into the five-minute overtime facing a most difficult task.