ANNAPOLIS, Md. Greg Sprink scored nine of his game-high 19 points in the last 1:29 to help Navy hold on for a 76-68 victory over Army in the annual “Star” game Saturday afternoon in front of 5,247 spectators at Alumni Hall.
Trey Stanton added 15 points and Kaleo Kina chipped in 14 points for the Midshipmen, who improve to 14-13 (4-8 Patriot League).
Army (13-14, 3-9 Patriot League) was led by Jarell Brown, who tallied a team-high 18 points. Matt Bell and Doug Williams each added 16 points apiece for the Black Knights, who dropped their seventh straight game.
Six points by Adam Teague jumpstarted a 12-4 Navy scoring run that turned a 35-35 game at the 15:21 mark into a 47-39 Midshipmen lead with 11:40 to play. Navy did not trail the rest of the way en route to splitting the season series with Army.
A 9-7 Army push, which was capped by five straight points by Cleveland Richard, made the score 54-48 with 7:27 to play.
A trey by Teague out of the left corner began a brief 6-2 Navy burst that gave the Midshipmen a 60-50 cushion with 5:02 remaining in the second half.
Army cut Navy’s lead down to four points at 72-68 with 23 seconds left following a triple by Brown, but the Black Knights could get no closer.
“Navy is very difficult to defend,” said Army head coach Jim Crews. “Their post players shoot the three-point jumper very well and that spreads out a defense. We did a great job defending Greg Sprink in the first half, but he destroyed us in the second half.
“I thought we did some very good things on offense, but we just didn’t finish off enough plays. We had a lot of opportunities throughout the game, but we just couldn’t get over the hump. I thought we were very close to doing some really good things, but we just could finish things off.”
After Navy opened up a 32-26 lead following a three-pointer by Stanton to start the second half, Army took off on a 9-3 run to knot the score at 35-35 with 15:21 to play. It marked the first tie of the game since the score was even at 9-9 midway through the first half.
Army controlled play early on, jumping out to a 9-5 at the 14:34 mark following a three-pointer by Brown. Navy raced back with a 13-1 run, ignited by seven consecutive points by Kina, to give the Midshipmen an 18-10 lead with 7:55 left before halftime.
Six straight points by Williams trimmed Navy’s lead to 18-16 at the 6:33 mark, before a quick 5-2 Navy spurt gave the Midshipmen a 23-18 advantage with 4:55 to play. Army outscored Navy 8-6 to end the period and trailed, 29-26, at the half.
Army was led in the first stanza by Brown, who tallied eight points. Kina paced Navy in the opening 20 minutes with eight points.
Army returns to Christl Arena for the final two games of the regular season. The Black Knights kick off their brief two-game home stand on Wednesday, Feb. 21, when they host Lafayette at 7 p.m.