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Navy ousted in Patriot League men’s basketball tournament by Loyola

The future is bright for Navy, and the Mids accomplished a lot this season, but Saturday was tough.

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

NCAA tournament hopes for Navy’s men’s basketball team came to a disappointing end Saturday afternoon, as the Midshipmen fell 76-68 to the Loyola Greyhounds in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League tournament in Alumni Hall.

Navy played without All-Patriot League selections Cam Davis and Richard Njoku due to COVID-19 protocols for the third straight game.

Leading the way for Navy in their absence was Greg Summers, who stuffed the box score with 21 points, three rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals. Patrick Dorsey added 12 points, four boards and three steals.

Navy trailed Loyola 40-28 at halftime. The Mids eventually cut that deficit to a single point with a 20-9 run that was capped off by a three-pointer from John Carter Jr., but the Greyhounds were able to hold onto the lead and keep the Mids at-bay.

Loyola really hurt Navy inside. The Greyhounds outrebounded the Mids 34-26, outscored them in the paint 44-30, and Loyola scored 19 off second-chance points.

The Greyhounds move on to the Patriot League semifinals, where they’ll face the winner of Army and American.

One defeat should not diminish what the Midshipmen accomplished this season, amidst a pandemic.

Navy went 15-3 overall, a record that included a win over the Georgetown Hoyas. They went 12-1 in regular season Patriot League play and won the regular season championship outright for the first time since 1997. Ed DeChellis was named Patriot League Coach of the Year, Cam Davis was named to the All-Patriot first team and Richard Njoku was named to the All-Defense team.

The Mids are 13th in RPI, 85th in NET and 145th in KenPom. Navy was picked to finish fourth in the Patriot League and massively outperformed expectations.

Navy hasn’t played in a postseason tournament since 1998, when it lost in the first round of the NCAA tourney to UNC. The NIT isn’t the NCAA’s, but it’s still something — and it would still be significant for this program.

And wouldn’t it be something if Navy went there and won a game or two, or even the whole damn thing?

The NIT selection show is March 14. Games will begin in Texas on March 17. The NIT isn’t taking regular season conference champs as automatic bids this season. So, Navy will have to hope that its resume is good enough to keep playing.

Regardless of Navy’s postseason fate this year, the good news is that — outside of Davis — the core of this roster will return next season. Carter Jr., Njoku, Summers, Dorsey, Inge, Deaver, Walker and Nelson are all back. That’s eight of Navy’s top nine in scoring and minutes-played. The Mids should be in a position to have similar success next year.