Late Run Not Enough As Navy Defeats Denver, 79-71

The final score was a familiar one as Denver lost 79-71 for the second time in three games. However, the path to that final score was far different than the one the Pios took when they played a tough Florida Gulf Coast team to the final minutes in a true road game on Friday night. In this contest the Pioneers came out shockingly cold and were out of it before the dust even had a chance to settle. The obvious bright spot came from Joe Rosga, who had a career high 33 points, including a barrage of 20 in the last 8:18 to lead the rally that would end up falling short.

The first half got off to about as bad of a start as Denver could have imagined. Halfway through the first half the Pioneers had scored only 2 points and found themselves behind by 14 points. It was a deflating start for a game that should have been close, and even though Denver was able to go back and forth with Navy for the rest of the first half, the damage had already been done and Denver was staring at a 37-22 deficit as they headed into the locker room. The first half shooting was so dismal that only Joe Rosga and Jake Holtzmann had field goals. Christian Mackey had also already picked up four fouls and the team committed 15 turnovers as a group. Simply put – it was a bad half – there’s no other way to say it.

Unfortunately, most of the second half would go the same way. The Midshipmen would continue to slowly build up their lead until they were eventually ahead by 25 points, 55-30 with 13:27 to go. It is to Denver’s credit that they continued to fight, and they eventually whittled the lead down to 10 points with 3:02 to go, prompting fantasies of a record comeback and crazy celebration… alas, it was not to be. Hasan Abdullah and Shawn Anderson would make the free throws to close it out for Navy and they ended up taking home a 79-71 victory.

It was a frustrating loss for Denver, Daniel Amigo fouled out after playing only 12 minutes and despite scoring 12 points, Elvin Rodriguez once again did not have any assists. It’s not a good box score to look at – other than Rosga, Denver just didn’t get the performances needed to beat a mediocre team like Navy. Though Rosga’s performance does deserve another mention, he tried his best to will the team to victory in the later part of the second half, and had he been given a few more minutes, he might have done it. In the end though, it goes down as another loss, and Denver is now 2-4 after six games, not where they or the fans wanted or expected them to be. It’s tempting to say that this was the third game in three days for Denver, but it was the third game for Navy in three days as well, so that should have cancelled out. At this point, we just have to wait and see what happens in the next game, at some point I expect to see a breakthrough as a team, and it doesn’t seem to have come yet.

That next game is against Wyoming on Wednesday, November 29 at 7 PM at Magness Arena. As I said before the game against Navy, and it goes even more so for this game – this is a chance for Denver to take a step in the right direction and get the season back on track. Wyoming is a good team, they beat South Dakota State handily this season and won on the road at Oregon State. Denver will be an underdog at home, and rightfully so,  but it’s another chance to prove themselves against what looks to be superior competition. After the start to the season, I think many Denver fans would be happy with a solid effort and complete game, even if they can’t pull out a victory over the Cowboys.