The UMBC Golden Retrievers defended their home court tonight defeating the Navy Midshipmen 63-48 in the two teams second and final meeting of the season. Navy got off to a fast start hitting four shots from behind the arc in the first six minutes but at halftime only sustained a 21-20 lead over the Retrievers.
In the second half it was all UMBC who shot an impressive 45% from three and dominated the points in the paint. UMBC was led by freshman point guard, Rodney Elliot. That name should sound familiar to you. Elliot is the son of former Maryland Terrapin, Rodney Elliot, who was on hand at RAC Arena in Baltimore to watch his son score 21 points on 8-12 shooting. Elliot made a career high four 3-point field goals as the Retrievers improved their record to 4-9.
An incredible stat from tonight’s game is that Navy only attempted one free throw, and it was missed. Navy coach Ed DeChellis said, “We didn’t get inside, we didn’t post up hard enough and we didn’t drive the ball very well at all,” while adding plainly that “We played poor.” Navy would shoot just 29 percent in the second half while UMBC shot an impressive 56 percent.
An inspiring story from tonight’s game is UMBC freshman guard Bryan Harris. Harris played in just his second game of the season tonight after missing time due to his recovering from two heart procedures. Harris scored 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half. After the game he said that he just wanted to be on the floor with his teammates, “For me it was just getting my legs back and just running to stay in shape.” Coach Aki Thomas praised Harris and Elliot after the game saying that those two players work incredible hard.
For the Midshipmen, it was their first game without starting point guard, Tilman Dunbar who has been suspended indefinitely for violating Naval Academy rules and regulations. Dunbar is the teams leading scorer and assist man. He was replaced by Earl McLaurin who scored only two points but assisted on seven Midshipmen baskets while only turning the ball over once. Navy found themselves in foul trouble very early in the second half and after watching UMBC go on two separate 10-0 runs were never able to crawl back into the game. Junior guard Brandon Venturini and freshman Zach Fong both dropped 15 points in the losing effort for the Midshipmen.
Up next for Navy, who fell to 5-6, is another road game versus an in-state team in Loyola. The Retrievers of UMBC will have six days off before beginning their America East Conference play at UMass Lowell on January 5th.