First-year Monmouth coach King Rice’s team lost its first eight games by an average of 27.4 points. But behind Steele and Ed Waite and Mike Myers Keitt, who had 10 points apiece, the Hawks prevailed.
Navy (3-7) led 37-34 at halftime. Forward J.J. Avila led the Midshipmen with 14 points and seven rebounds. A basket by James Loupos and a 3-pointer by Jordan Sugars gave Navy a 55-53 lead.
But Monmouth prevailed down the stretch.
After Waite’s layup put Monmouth up 64-62, another Sugars’ 3-pointer pulled Navy within 68-67 with 7 seconds left. Dion Nesmith made a free throw for Monmouth before Jordan Brickman missed a last-gasp 3-pointer. Monmouth shot 58 percent (29 of 50) to Navy’s 47.1 (24 for 51), but the Midshipmen were just 10 of 28 from 3.