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Men’s Basketball Notebook: Navy sweeps Patriot League play. Air Force startles Top 25 team.

Daniel Deaver made all eight shots en route to Navy’s Friday win against Bucknell, 73-55

NCAA Basketball: Navy at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another load of wins for the Service Academies.

At the top of the Patriot League sits Army and Navy. Navy is 4-0, while Army is 3-1. Army’s 3-0 start was its best start in Patriot League play since 2013-14. We’re less than two weeks away from Army and Navy’s first matchup.

Out west, Air Force nearly gave Colorado State its first loss of the season, trailing by only a basket late. They had yet another game canceled because of COVID issues in their opponents’ program, but the Falcons have shown that they can battle with anyone.

It’s been nearly three months of strong play for all three teams, showing that they’re the real deal. Another tough week of conference play is on hand. Let’s see if they’ll continue to impress.

Results

Last Tuesday

Navy 83, Boston University 71

Army 96, Bucknell 89

No. 20 Colorado State 67, Air Force 59

Last Friday

Army 77, Lehigh 55

Navy 73, Bucknell 55

Monday

Colgate 76, Army 57

Navy 69, Lafayette 55

Upcoming

Thursday

Boston University vs. Army – 6 p.m. (ESPN+)

Colgate vs. Navy – 7 p.m. (ESPN+)

Saturday

Nevada vs. Air Force – 5 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Sunday

Navy vs. Boston University – 1 p.m. (ESPN+)

Army vs. Lafayette – 2 p.m. (ESPN+)

Notes...

Navy

Sports are all about how you play with the cards that you’re dealt. Daniel Deaver might have hit the jackpot this past week if we’re talking about card games.

After starting the first nine games of the season, Deaver was shifted to a bench role after committing four turnovers in the Dec. 7 loss to George Mason. He struggled initially in that role, scoring only eight points combined in his first three games off the bench. This week he came out a different ballplayer.

In Navy’s 83-71 win on Tuesday against Boston University, they were shorthanded as Greg Summers tweaked his hamstring in the victory against Holy Cross on New Year’s Day. This seemed as it would be a big loss for Navy, as Summers had started the last 60 games dating back to the start of his sophomore season. Navy had no problem taking care of business though.

Boston U kept it close for the first part of the first half, but a 17-0 Midshipmen run helped them run away and hold the lead for the remainder of the game.

Deaver had a big first half at ten points, finishing the game out with a season-high 18 tallied with 9 rebounds. Both would be season-highs, as the rebounding mark tied a career-high.

“We had guys step up,” Navy head coach Ed DeChellis said. “I thought Deaver played his best game today. Double D was tremendous.”

If what he did on Tuesday was tremendous, then what he did on Friday was monstrous.

Navy played to a close first half with the Bucknell Bison, holding a 32-32 tie at the break.

Bucknell would keep it close until their head coach, Nathan Davis, got a technical with 13:45 remaining in the game. Navy instantly responded with a 14-3 run and led by double digits for the remainder of the game.

In that run, Deaver began to go off. He hit a three, his first three since early November. That shot helped cap an 8-8 game from the field and a season-high 20 points. The crowd noticed, they started chanting his name.

“Any protocol is to pretend like you don’t hear it,” said Deaver. “It reminds me of the old high school days.”

Navy pulled out yet another impressive double-digit victory without Greg Summers, 73-55. Friday also marked the return of Patrick Dorsey who averaged 6.1 points per game a season ago. He missed the beginning of the season because of a severe sprained ankle. Dorsey returned with three timely threes.

“It felt great tonight,” said Dorsey. “I feel like I could’ve played more minutes if I had to.”

Navy will look to use him more as they play three games this week, starting on Monday night against Fran O’Hanlon and his Lafayette Leopards.

Earlier this season, Lafayette upset Rutgers. It has been downhill since that.

They opened Patriot League play with a 79-74 loss against lowly Holy Cross. A team that Navy kept quiet from the field, shot 55.4% against Lafayette on Friday.

On Thursday, the Midshipmen will host the reigning Patriot League champions, Colgate.

The Raiders run an excellent offense per usual, but their defense really hasn’t been there this season. They also return a lot of similar faces as Nelly Cummings leads an experienced team.

Colgate is ice cold though after starting 3-2 with wins against Northeastern and Syracuse, and a one-possession loss to N.C. State. They have dropped eight of nine, losing to teams like Pitt and Lehigh.

Army

We’re entering unprecedented territory on the banks of the Hudson. For the first time since 2013-14, the Army Black Knights have opened Patriot League play 3-0.

“Our guys made it happen. They’ve really been terrific in the first few games,” Army head coach Jimmy Allen said.

They did it two completely different ways this week, starting with an offensive win up in Lewisburg against Bucknell, 96-89.

In the first half, the Black Knights were unconscious. They shot an outstanding 66.7% from the field, leading 50-49. But that was the problem. They only led by one. Bucknell shot 57.1% in that first half.

Army would take control early in the second half, going on a 20-4 run. They would lead for the remainder of the game, pushing away late.

The Black Knights would finish the game with an outstanding 60% mark from the field, falling one point shy of its season high.

Jalen Rucker scored 21 points, capping his fourth 20-point game this season. He was followed by Aaron Duhart who scored a career-high 20 points.

“This was a great win for our program. We beat a good team in a tough environment. More importantly, we showed flashes of how great of an offensive team we can be,” said Duhart.

Army would continue its strong play with a 77-55 win over Lehigh. The Black Knights led for 99.5% of the game, leading by as much as 28.

It all started with a 16-2 run, that led into a 39-13 lead at halftime. Lehigh would continue to try and cut it close later, but no cigar.

Jalen Rucker led the way once again with 22 points, completing his third straight 20-point game. This guided him towards Patriot League Player of the Week honors.

“Luckily my shots today were falling,” said Rucker. “It really started with defense.”

That was the difference though, as Lehigh only shot 40% from the field. A far cry from the Bucknell sharpshooting on Tuesday.

Air Force

Many teams won’t take moral victories, but I bet a depleted Air Force will take the result they were given on Tuesday against No.20 Colorado State.

The Falcons led for a good bit on the first half against the Rams but fell 67-59. Air Force was without star AJ Walker and other key contributors, Joseph Octave, and Lucas Moerman.

“I can watch and coach a team like that every day, all day. If that’s who we’re going to be, which is what we’re striving to be,” Air Force head coach Joe Scott said, “That’s all we want here.”

Air Force didn’t trail until the 5:06 mark of the first half, holding a 21-16 lead before a 14-0 CSU run. The Rams would start for the remainder of the game but kept it close throughout cutting it down to as low as two at the 7:00 mark of the second half.

A major positive out of this game was shooting percentage. A team who doesn’t usually put up that many points shot 52% from the field and 48% from three.

This was a major turnaround from last season where they lost to Colorado State by 23 and 30.

If they can compete like this every game, expect some close results.

The Falcons were supposed to host UNLV on Saturday, but the game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Rebels program.

Air Force will get back to action after an 11-day break against Nevada. The Wolfpack have won six of seven since AJ Brahma left the program, as Grant Sherfield has continued his Mountain West Player of the Year play.