Davidson 69, Navy Men 61
Part of Navy's undoing in a 69-61 loss to Davidson before 1,184 at Alumni Hall last night was that it followed its scouting report. The Midshipmen shut down the players who had helped Davidson stay close to No. 6 Duke in its season opener on Monday, and those who had helped the Wildcats defeat Navy last season.
But Davidson reserve sophomore forward Conor Grace finished with a career-high 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting and added a career-high 11 rebounds. In the final minute, Grace had a crucial offensive rebound and a blocked shot to help keep the Midshipmen (2-1) at bay.
Navy Coach Don DeVoe indicated the team had spent more time focusing on two other Davidson players -- forward Ian Johnson and guard Peter Anderer -- in their scouting report.
"No, he wasn't one of their big scorers," DeVoe said of Grace. "He hadn't played much against Duke. . . . The biggest thing was that they got some easy baskets against our defense."
The Midshipmen did their jobs against Anderer and Johnson. Senior guard Jason Jeanpierre held Anderer scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting. Anderer was the leading three-point shooter in the Southern Conference and scored 28 points in an 81-79 victory over Navy last season.
Johnson added 14 points, nine fewer than he scored in an 85-70 loss to Duke. The Wildcats trailed Duke by six with 1 minute 9 seconds to play in that game before the Blue Devils pulled away.
Navy also was undone by poor ballhandling after they took a 43-41 lead following a three-point play by senior Francis Ebong with 15:41 left in the game. Davidson went on a 12-0 run after that and took a 53-43 lead following a layup by Jouni Eho with 11:31 to play. That marked the biggest lead for either team in the game.
Navy turned the ball over on six straight possessions following Ebong's basket. Senior captain Jason Jeanpierre had three turnovers and classmates Mitch Moore, Francis Ebong and Scott Long had one each. Overall, Navy turned the ball over on eight of its next nine possessions after it took the 43-41 lead.
Jeanpierre finished with a team-high 15 points, though Navy was outrebounded 43-25.
"We weren't being calm with the ball," Jeanpierre said. "We were trying to do too much, we weren't patient in those six or seven possessions."
Said DeVoe: "There is one word for our ballhandling in that situation. And that word is 'inept.' "
The Wildcats are one of two teams on Navy's schedule that made the NCAA tournament last year. Defending Patriot League champion Holy Cross is the other.
Grace, a native of Ireland, is one of three such players currently playing Division I basketball. His father, Tom, was an international rugby player for Ireland and was part of the 1974 British Lions tour to South Africa.