Navy returns home with 78-75 victory Harris scores 18 to trip Lafayette

January 03, 1991|By Mike Frainie | Mike Frainie,Special to The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- Ask Erik Harris about playing at home.

"It felt great to be back," said Harris. "It's good to get some food in you other than McDonald's."

The Midshipmen (4-6) made the most of their homecoming. After playing eight of its first nine on the road, Navy rallied for a 78-75 win over Lafayette (3-7) before 815 at Halsey Field House last night.

Harris led the Middies with 18 points, and Sam Cook added 13 in Navy's first home game since Nov. 26. The Leopards were led by Larry Spigner's 22 and Bruce Stankavage's 20.

"I thought we played well," said Navy coach Pete Herrmann. "That's the second-highest point total they've given up this season. We fought out of a hole early and hit some shots in the second half. They were not a good perimeter shooting team, so we backed [our defense] off and relied on rebounds."

Navy led, 56-53, with 12 minutes, 17 seconds left, but the Leopards, who lost their most recent game, 59-57, against No. 12-ranked Connecticut before 16,000 in Hartford, Conn., used a jumper by Jeff Antolick and a three-pointer by Larry Spigner to take a 58-56 lead.

After Navy's Victor Mickel responded with a three-pointer to cut the lead to 60-59, the Leopard ran off six straight points to take a 66-59 lead with 8:38 left.

Navy applied half-court and full-court pressure, which helped force the Leopards into 10 turnovers for the game.

"We have an unorthodox press," said Harris. "It's not really a zone press and it's not really a [man-to-man] press. It doesn't really have many rules, but it worked for us tonight."

The Middies rallied from that point, using Nick Marusich's two free throws and Harris' 12-footer to cut the margin to 66-62 with 7:24 left.

After Stankavage scored the Leopards' next three points on a free throw and a 15-footer, Harris hit two foul shots and Chuck Robinson a three-pointer and a layup to tie the game at 69.

The Leopards missed a 14-footer, and Harris rebounded and was fouled. He made both foul shots to give the Middies a 71-69 lead. After the Leopards again misfired on their next possession, Navy's Michael Burd was fouled on the Middies' next two possessions. He made all four free throws to give Navy a 75-69 lead with 2:02 left.

The Leopards cut the margin to 75-73 on a layup by Antolick and a tip-in by Larry Spigner with 39 seconds left, but Lance Reinhard and Harris each made free throws down the stretch to settle the issue.

"We made our free throws tonight [the Middies shot 24-for-27], and that's been a real thorn for us," said Herrmann. "We have a strong mental attitude on this team, and I think it helped us tonight."

Hermann also said his big men did what was necessary.

"[Lafayette] saw a film of us against Mount St. Mary's [a game in which the Middies made 20 three-pointers], so they were playing us tough on the perimeter. I thought Nick [Marusich] and Eddie [Reddick] missed some shots in the first half but came on in the second, and that's what we need them to do."

Navy led, 56-53, with 12 minutes, 17 seconds left, but the Leopards, who lost their most recent game, 59-57, against No. 12-ranked Connecticut before 16,000 in Hartford, Conn., used a jumper by Antolick and a three-pointer by Spigner to take a 58-56 lead.

After Navy's Victor Mickel responded with a three-pointer to cut the lead to 60-59, the Leopard ran off six straight points to take a 66-59 lead with 8:38 left.

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