ANNAPOLIS, Md. — So close.

The Princeton men’s basketball team’s comeback from a 20-point halftime deficit was short-lived when Matt Alocco missed a contested long 3-pointer at the buzzer and Navy held on for a 74-73 victory in the nightcap of the ninth annual Veterans Classic here at Alumni Hall.

Aloka scored 19 points, including two late 3-pointers, to keep the Tigers (0-2) alive, and after the Marines (2-0) missed a pair of free throws with 3.6 seconds left, he ran in court and picked up a 3 as he felt contact from the quarterback.

But the whistles didn’t blow, and Navy celebrated the win on home court.

Sean Yoder scored 20 points and Tyler Nelson added 17 for Midshippen.

Keeshon Kellman continued his strong start to the season with a team-high 20 points, while Toson Eubuomwan had 15 for Princeton.

Aloka and Kellman got the Tigers back into the game after falling behind by 20 in a tough first half in which they allowed Navy to shoot 72.5% from the floor. Aloka scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half and Kellman scored 13 after intermission.

Princeton got within one twice — 68-67 after Ryan Langborg made a 3 and then again at 74-73 after Aloka drained a three — but it never got over the hump.

10 is perfect

Kellman scored the game’s first two points on a dunk, making it 10 consecutive field goals to start the season.

The senior was 9 for 9 in the opener against Hofstra, making him one of only two players in program history to make that many field goals without a miss. Barnes Hauptführer was 11-for-11 on December 7, 1974 against Notre Dame.

On the next shot, Kellman missed for the first time.

Legal problems

No. 3 Houston looked like a big part of the 81-55 win over St. Joseph, but the bigger problem was the court.

Unusually warm November temperatures combined with rainy weather created a smooth playing surface. At one point near the end of the first game, officials huddled with both coaches and appeared to discuss ending the game early.

As a result, they completed the final three and a half minutes without incident.

Paying homage

On Thursday, the Tigers visited the Naval Academy and met former Navy football captain and Navy SEAL Clint Bruce.

“Thank you to all our veterans,” coach Mitch Henderson tweeted before Friday’s game against the Midshipmen. “We are honored to participate in the Veterans Classic, compete against the Navy and be guests of the US Naval Academy!”

Next

Princeton remains in the DMV to play against UMBC on Monday. The team attends Navy’s football game against Notre Dame in Baltimore on Saturday.

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