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Navy claims top spot in Patriot League men’s basketball tournament

The Mids won the Patriot League regular season title outright for the first time since 1997.

NCAA Basketball: East Carolina at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Navy Midshipmen are the regular season champions of the Patriot League in men’s basketball.

Behind 16 points from John Carter Jr. and a nine-point and nine-rebound effort from Greg Summers, Navy topped Loyola 66-58 Sunday in Alumni Hall, winning the conference championship and clinching a No. 1 seed in the Patriot League tournament.

It’s the first time since 2000 that the Mids (15-2; 12-1 Patriot) won at least a share of the regular season league title, and the first time since 1997 that they nabbed the top seed outright.

The Mids pulled off Sunday’s milestone victory without two key starters in Cam Davis and Richard Njoku, who missed the game due to COVID-19 contact tracing protocols. Additionally, head coach Ed DeChellis was also absent due to a diabetes-related medical issue, the academy said.

“I wish coach DeChellis, our leader, could have been here,” assistant coach Jon Perry said. “This has been 10 years in the making. This is his program, his team. Everyone here today put in and did what he asked us to do. Really disappointed for Cam and Richard not being able to be here, too. Those are two huge parts of the success of this program.”

Indeed, Davis leads the team in scoring with 17.1 points per-game and Njoku has been a force in the post and has the best field goal percentage on the team with a 65.4% mark. Still, even without Davis and Njoku, Navy bested the Greyhounds in the paint, outscoring them 32-24 there and also winning the rebounding margin by six.

Perhaps the biggest key to the game was Navy’s depth though, as it outscored Loyola in bench points 38-11. In addition to Carter Jr.’s off-the-bench efforts, Jaylen Walker had seven points and Daniel Deaver had 15.

Navy’s 12 Patriot League wins are the most its ever had under the direction of DeChellis.

The Patriot League tournament begins Wednesday at campus sites. Navy will host Loyola again on Saturday in Annapolis. All games will be on ESPN+.

All four of ESPN’s *experts* are picking Colgate to win the Patriot League tournament. Should the Mids prove them wrong, Navy will be bound for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998.