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Men’s Basketball Notebook: Navy looks for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1998

The Midshipmen will head to the Patriot League championship game for the first time since 2001.

Nothing beats the month of March.

Just ask Navy head coach Ed Dechellis.

“This is the best time of the year,” he said Saturday. “It’s just really a lot of fun for these kids and we look forward to playing on Wednesday night and being on national TV again. Let’s see if we can get something special done.”

He and his Midshipmen are heading to the Patriot League title game for the first time since 2001. Of course, it will be no easy test, as they have to visit Colgate — which swept Navy in the regular season. Still, much is at-stake. Including a chance to play in the big dance.

Air Force will begin its own trek towards march on Wednesday in Las Vegas, but they’ll have to win four games in four days as the second-lowest seed in the bracket. Not an easy path for Joe Scott.

But, this is March. Crazy stuff happens.

Results

Tuesday

Air Force 58, San Jose State 54

Thursday

Navy 71, American 64

Lehigh 91, Army 77

Sunday

Navy 85, Boston U 80 (OT)

Schedule

Wednesday

Air Force vs Utah State – 4:30 p.m. (Mountain West Network)

Navy vs Colgate – 7:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Thursday

Air Force/Utah State vs Colorado State – 9 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Friday

Mountain West Semifinal – Midnight (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday

Mountain West Final – 6 p.m. (CBS)

Navy

The Navy Midshipmen have clinched a berth to the Patriot League title game for the first time since 2001. A win on Wednesday against Colgate, and the Midshipmen will go dancing for the first time since 1998.

They opened their run through the conference tournament with a battle of a win against tenth-seeded American, 71-64, in the league quarterfinals.

Falling down nine early, Navy would lead by three at the half, 33-30. They would extend that out to 15 in the second half as American kept trying to scrap back, but it was far too large of a deficit for the Eagles.

“I appreciate the kids. We survived, we advanced, and we get to play another day,” said DeChellis.

The win set up a semifinal matchup against Boston University, a team that Navy swept during the regular season. It would also be the first time that the Midshipmen hosted a semifinal since 2001.

Both sides went punch-for-punch throughout the game, as when one team scored, the other would respond. Neutral basketball fans everywhere were enjoying the hell out of this one. Terriers and Midshipmen fans couldn’t exactly say the same, their hearts beating four times as fast.

There were 12 second-half lead changes, as the last 12 minutes were a fight! No team led by more than three until 22.5 remaining in the second half where Navy went up 65-60 at the line. That was also when Javante McCoy went off.

He would drain six of his 26 second half/overtime points at the end of regulation, forcing overtime in Annapolis.

“He’s a tremendous player, someone that I’m going to miss dearly,” said Boston University head coach Joe Jones. “One of the best performances I’ve had in my coaching career is what that kid did with the season on the line.”

McCoy’s efforts would not be enough as the Midshipmen won in the extra frame, 85-80. What was slated to be a defensive battle ended up being the highest-scoring game for Navy this season.

“This is March; this is what we want, this is what we have honestly dreamed of,” said Summers. ”The atmosphere, it was a great atmosphere and going back and forth, we had a lot of guys step up and competed.”

Air Force

The Falcons ended their Mountain West regular season the same way they started it. With a win.

On Wednesday night, Air Force beat the last-placed team in the Mountain West, San Jose State, by a score of 58-54. It was a close game throughout, but the Falcons picked up the season sweep.

Lucas Moerman rallied the first double-double of his career, scoring 10 points and racking up 12 rebounds. It was enough to earn him Mountain West Freshman of the Week nods.

Air Force will open the Mountain West Tournament against Utah State, a team they beat at Clune Arena earlier this season.

Army

Another season, another exit in the conference tournament. One of the original four teams to never make the big dance will stay in that group, as Army lost to Lehigh in Thursday’s quarterfinals, 91-77.

The Black Knights had a strong first half that included a 10-0 run to put Army up seven with 6:25 remaining in the first half. The problem was, there was 6:25 left in the half. Lehigh responded with a 14-0 run and did not look back from there. They led by nine at the break and would lead by as much as 20 in the second half.

Jalen Rucker led the way with 26 points for the Black Knights as Josh Caldwell scored 12 in his final game in an Army jersey.