American defeated Navy 74-58 to improve to 7-21, 4-13 in the Patriot League heading into its regular-season finale at Loyola. Here are five key plays/sequences from the win.
1. Matt Cimino gets start, starts hot
The GW transfer made the most of his first start of the season, making two quick 3s, feeding Charlie Jones for a perfect backdoor -- Cimino has proven to be the best backdoor-passing player on the team -- and finishing with 12 points, four rebounds, and three blocks in 25 minutes. Cimino was the catalyst for American's wire-to-wire win.
2. Navy goes 0-10 from 3 in first half
The Midshipmen, with the exception of offensive rebounding, were really bad offensively. In the first half, this was most clear in their 0-10 shooting from deep. American defended the perimeter relatively well, contesting most of the looks. Navy entered the contest ninth in the Patriot League in 3-point shooting percentage (33%) and was even worse.
3. Navy starts second half strong, but American responds
This was the key portion of the game. Navy came out of the halftime locker room ready to shoot, and American allowed three wide-open looks that cut the Mids' deficit to a point, 37-36. The Eagles could have folded at that point, but instead Delante Jones fed Mark Gasperini with a perfect pass for an and-one. Navy wouldn't get closer than five points the rest of the way.
4. James Washington provides a spark off the bench
Over the past several games, the sophomore has looked more comfortable on the court -- following a three-game no-playing mystery -- and his performance peaked against Navy. Washington weaved his way through the zone, making the right reads, including a layup and a 3 here that helped keep Navy at bay. Washington finished with 10 points in 26 minutes.
5. Sa'eed Nelson closes things out
The freshman point guard struggled to finish at the rim in the first half vs. Navy's bigs, but he made the right cuts and finished the Midshipmen with three big layups late. American never took its foot off the gas, allowing the Eagles to cruise to the victory and not face any last-minute drama. We'll see if it carries over to Loyola.