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Huge first half leads Navy last Loyola in finale

Worth Smith led Navy with 20 points as they beat Loyola in Reitz Arena in the regular season finale.

Worth Smith led Navy with 20 points as they beat Loyola in Reitz Arena in the regular season finale.

Worth Smith and Brandon Venturini each nailed three three’s as the Navy Midshipmen beat the Loyola Greyhounds, 57-47 on Saturday in Reitz Arena.

Going into the final game of the season both Navy and Loyola could have finished anywhere from sixth to ninth in the Patriot League standings and Navy used a tremendous first half to power past the Greyhounds.

Navy scored the first seven points of the game and just five and a half minutes in, took a double-digit lead, 15-5. After a short jumper by Loyola’s Eric Laster, Navy went on a nine-point run to take a 24-7 advantage.

Smith and Venturini each made two of their threes in he first half as Navy took a 32-21 lead into halftime. Navy out-shot Loyola 52-percent to 30.4-percent and went 4-for-9 from distance as opposed to Navy’s 1-for-6 effort before halftime.

Navy made it look semi-respectable at the break but never could really get back within striking distance. Navy was held to just one field goal in the final seven minutes but were able to keep their lead with successful free throws.

The Greyhounds did start out the second half incredible strong. Cam Gregory hit the first layup to get back within single digits and an old-fashion three-point play by Chancellor Barnard followed by a fast-break layup by Tyler Hubbard made it a four-point game not even three minutes into the second half.

After another three by Venturini gave Navy another seven-point lead, the Mids went another four minutes without a made field goal but used free throws to prevent Loyola from taking a lead. But finally, they started to hit their shots again. Earl McLaurin nailed a three to end the field-goal drought and five-straight points by Smith put the Mids up by 14 on a 10-1 run.

Navy suffered another scoring drought that lasted about seven minutes but once again, free throws kept them at an advantage.

In the low-scoring affair, Navy’s 14 free throws were a lot. Will Kelly went a perfect 6-for-6 from the line in his 14-point effort. Smith led Navy with 20 points and Venturini scored 11.

Gregory put up a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Greyhounds and Laster netted 12 points but the Greyhounds shot only 38.3-percent from the field. And despite their 36-27 rebounding advantage, their 1-for-10 display from 3-point range and just 50-percent shooting from the line were too much to overcome.

Because American University also won on Saturday, Navy still wasn’t able to avoid one of the two first round games in the Patriots League tournament. Navy will host No. 10 Army, though, at 7 pm on March 3 as the seventh seed. Ninth-seeded Loyola will travel to 10th-seeded Holy Cross for their game.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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