NEW ORLEANS, LA - The Navy men's basketball team held Tulane to just 27.7 percent field goal shooting, but the Green Wave went 21-of-29 from the free throw line to snap Navy's modest two-game winning streak with a 51-41 decision on Saturday afternoon.
The loss drops Navy to 4-5 overall, while Conference USA member Tulane improved to 6-2. It marks the fifth straight game that Navy has held its opponent to 54 points or less, the first time that has happened since Feb. 1986.
Tulane made just one field goal in the last 10 minutes, but went 17-of-24 from the free throw line in the second half and scored 15 of its last 17 points from the charity stripe.
"I thought we played fine on defense, but we let them get way too many offensive rebounds and shoot way too many free throws and that was the difference," said Navy head coachEd DeChellis. "That and we didn't shoot the ball great in the first half. It's tough to come back against a team like that when they get points at the free throw line and we are trying to catch up."
Tulane took a 23-13 halftime lead and stretched the lead to 27-13 early in the second half, when the Midshipmen used a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 27-20 with 15:47 left. Navy would continue to chip into the lead, whittling the margin to 32-27 on a Worth Smith (So. / Mooresville, N.C.) free throw with 11:37 left, but Tulane started its march to the free throw line and the Mids' offense responded with some untimely turnovers and missed opportunities.
Navy would get no closer than eight points, the last time coming at 41-33 with 7:17 left on a Brandon Venturini (So. / Allandale, Mich.) jumper, before the Green Wave settled in for the final 10-point margin.
Tulane opened the game with an 11-5 lead by making five of its first seven field goal attempts, but the Green Wave's superstar Josh Davis picked up two quick fouls just five minutes in and Navy took advantage somewhat, cutting the margin to 15-13 with 6:32 left.
However, Navy went scoreless the rest of the half while the Green Wave used an 8-0 run to grab a 23-13 halftime advantage.
Navy shot 17-of-47 (.362) from the field, was 4-of-16 (.250) from three-point range and went just 3-of-6 (.500) from the free throw line. Navy did shoot 52.2 percent in the second half after connecting on just 5-of-24 (.208) field goal attempts in the first half. Navy was guilty of 12 turnovers and was outrebounded, 43-27.
Tulane shot just 13-of-47 (.277) from the field and 4-of-19 (.211) from three-point range and was credited with 15 turnovers.
Venturini and Smith led Navy with 11 points each, while Smith grabbed eight rebounds. Tilman Dunbar (Fr. / Fairfax, Va.) led Navy with five assists.
Davis paced Tulane with 17 points and 10 rebounds, with 11 points and nine of the rebounds coming in the second half.
Navy returns to action on Wednesday when it travels to West Long Branch, N.J., to face Monmouth at 7:00 PM (ET).