Despite loss, Midshipmen are off to an encouraging start

ANNAPOLIS -- Navy didn't waste any time this year putting an end to its 22-game losing streak, dominating Division III Marymount on Friday night. Less than 48 hours later, Navy was back at it again at Alumni Hall, trying to end its 22-game skid against Division I competition.

Facing Siena on Sunday afternoon, the Midshipmen came within a foot of winning again. Freshman Jerome Alexander's jumper with 20 seconds left in regulation came from just inside the 3-point stripe, and it tied the game instead of putting Navy in front. But it would be the Mids' last field goal of the afternoon as they missed all eight shots in overtime of a 54-49 loss to the Saints.

It still was an encouraging opening weekend for Navy after a season in which it repeatedly folded in late game situations. On Sunday, the Mids scored six straight clutch points in the final 54 seconds of regulation to force overtime.

Freshman point guard Tilman Dunbar (13 points, five assists) sparked the rally with a pair of quick-strike baskets, then assisted on the tying bucket by Alexander (eight points).

"I could see that our offense was a little stagnant. We were having trouble getting the ball in the hole," said Dunbar, a graduate of Paul VI. "I just wanted to attack."

Navy put itself in position to win with inspired defensive work, limiting Siena (1-1) to 32.7 percent shooting overall, including 12 percent beyond the arc, and forcing 14 turnovers. But the Mids couldn't take advantage at the offensive end, hitting just 32.8 percent from the floor, including four of 20 shots from 3-point range.

The Mids' best outside shooter, Brandon Venturini (10 rebounds, five assists, two steals, two points), epitomized their scrappy but fruitless effort. The sophomore missed all seven of his 3-point attempts, including a bid to tie with 11 seconds left in overtime that was blocked by Ryan Oliver and recovered by Siena teammate Imoh Silas, ending the hopes of Navy.

Ultimately, Navy was done in by the inside strength of Silas (five points, 12 rebounds) and O.D. Anosike (17 points, 12 rebounds).