- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2009

ANNAPOLIS | The Patriot League’s leading scorers nearly matched each other shot for shot Wednesday at Alumni Hall.

The difference between American and Navy, though, might have come down to an inability for one to contest the other’s off-balance attempt in the final minute.

AU’s Garrison Carr writhed free for an open shot after Navy’s Kaleo Kina fell down on the perimeter, then connected on a 3-pointer with 30.1 seconds left as the Eagles escaped with a 68-67 victory.

AU (12-7, 4-1 Patriot League) kept pace with Holy Cross, the only other team in the conference with one league loss. And while Carr shook off a lingering slump with 28 points, serendipity played as big a role as anything.

“It’s funny. We can talk about X’s and O’s and anything else,” Eagles coach Jeff Jones said. “The game very well may have come down to the fact Kina fell down, and we got an open shot.”

Kina, the league’s leading scorer, had 26 points as the Midshipmen (14-7, 3-3) lost their second straight and fell into a cluster of six teams with either three or four league losses.

Navy seemed poised to follow up last year’s sweep of the Eagles after erasing a 12-point deficit in the second half. Kina’s slick pass to Adam Teague in the near corner led to a 3-pointer to make it 64-61, and he later finished his scoring with a free throw to give the Mids a 67-65 lead.

Still, there was the matter of containing Carr, typically a dangerous outside shooter who was only 8-for-28 (28.7 percent) from beyond the 3-point line in conference play before Wednesday night.

Navy struggled with that task in the first half, yielding 16 points to the senior as AU built a 43-33 lead. But Carr cooled modestly after the break, finding fewer open shots as the Mids’ defense aided their rally.

Until, of course, the final minute, when Carr drilled his winning shot to finish 7-for-11 on his 3-point attempts.

“We chased him all over the floor,” Navy coach Billy Lange said. “They’ve been doing the same thing for four years. At this point, their offense is like a warm blanket. He knows exactly [what’s happening], and he’s just very comfortable, so he knows he’s going to get his shots.”

So, too, is Kina, and it was little surprise the senior tried a jumper in the paint with seven seconds left. It went awry, as did a 30-footer at the buzzer by Chris Harris that would have won the game.

As a result, AU left with a victory in a local rivalry - not to mention a revitalized perimeter presence.

“They force you to make plays,” Jones said. “We were lucky that we made one more play than they did tonight.”

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