For 30 minutes it was uninspired and unwatchable. But that was before Navy freshman Kendall Knorr tied a pretty bow on an ugly night.
Hitting five straight perimeter jumpers in a span of five minutes, Knorr gave Navy the boost it needed on a sluggish night against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Finishing with 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting, Knorr propelled the Midshipmen to a 54-49 victory before 998 at Alumni Hall.
It was a career-high for the 6-3 left-hander from Concord, N.C. who tied a freshman single-game program record for field goals without a miss as Navy (4-4) exceeded its victory total from last season.
‘I just got good looks,” Knorr said. “My teammates put great passes on me and I just stepped into my shot. I followed through, and knocked them down.”
With IPFW (4-4) of the Summit League making 17 turnovers and Navy struggling on the boards (36-26 rebounding disadvantage), it was a game that neither team would seize. But Knorr heated up, leading an eight-possession run in which the Mids scored each time down the floor to transform a one-point lead into a 13-point bulge, 49-36, with 4:30 left. Knorr hit a trio of 3-pointers and two other shots from just inside the arc, scoring 13 of the 18 points of the spurt.
“I’ve been pulled over in practice and been told, ‘Attack, attack, attack,’” Knorr said. “It’s mainly just adjusting to the next level.”
Knorr scored 13 points in his debut in a win over Division III Marymount and now has hit 12 of 27 shots from beyond the arc (44.4 percent), where all but six of his field goal attempts have come. There’s little doubt about his shooting ability. Knorr’s balance is perfect and his stroke is pure. On Wednesday night, he delivered low-arching jumpers which tapped the back rim and dropped straight down through the net.
Eight games into his career, Knorr’s teammates have already become accustomed to looking for him when they penetrate the lane or as he comes off screens. All six of his baskets on Wednesday were catch-and-shoot in rhythm.
“A couple of times Isaiah Roberts drove and kicked and just put the ball in my pocket,” Knorr said. “I was just feeling it a little bit, so I just told him to keep it coming.”
Navy also got strong outside shooting from sophomore Brandon Venturini (11 points), who hit 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. Setting the shooters up were freshman Tilman Dunbar (seven assists), and juniors Brennan Wyatt (four points, three assists), and Roberts (five points, two assists).
“Our guys understand that [Knorr] can really shoot the ball. They really tried to find him tonight,” Navy coach Ed DeChellis said. “When he misses a shot in practice, he gets down on himself. I just say to him, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just worry about the next one. Just load it up and let it go.’”
Notes: Navy never trailed … The negatives for Navy were free-throw shooting (7 of 14) and rebounding. With 6-10 sophomore Jared Smoot in uniform but out indefinitely with an unspecified medical ailment, IPFW got 16 second-chance points to four for Navy … IPFW was without leading scorer Frank Gaines (20.7 ppg) — coach’s decision … The Mastodons entered with a +8.4 rebound margin and were led Wednesday by Baltimore-native Isaiah McCray (10 points). The sophomore hit 3-point jumpers at the end of both halves which were initially called good, but failed to survive videotape review … The game was the first ever meeting of the teams, but will be the first of two between them this year. Navy travels to Fort Wayne on Jan. 2.