ANNAPOLIS -- After 10 games of trying to work the kinks out of its new shoot-till-you-drop offense, Navy found out yesterday that the style needs more fine-tuning to work in the Colonial Athletic Association.
That was evident to the 601 fans at Halsey Field House who watched East Carolina run what amounted to an effective layup line in the first half on its way to a 97-81 victory over Navy in the CAA opener for both teams.
East Carolina (7-4, 1-0) led by as many as 18 points in the first half in scoring its most points ever in a CAA game. How easy was it for East Carolina in the early going? The Pirates shot 61.1 percent from the field in the first half and scored 10 of their 22 field goals in the first 20 minutes on layups.
"Five layups is enough. Ten is way too many," Navy coach Pete Herrmann said of the Pirates' early easy baskets. "You just can't give up that many easy scores. We didn't retreat back well enough out of our defensive pressure."
Still, after Navy (4-7, 0-1) fell behind, 51-33, with 2 minutes, 15 seconds left in the half, forward Eddie Reddick (game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds) scored five points during a 7-0 run that cut the deficit to 51-40 at halftime.
"Playing against that type of team, an eight- or 10-point lead doesn't mean a thing," East Carolina coach Mike Steele said. LTC Our guys weren't alert and got sloppy and careless at the end of the first half."
Navy slowly began cutting the deficit early in the second half and, after a layup by Reddick, had the deficit down to 60-57 with 13:18 left. Erik Harris' three-pointer with 9:09 left moved Navy within four at 70-66, but Steve Richardson scored six points during a 10-0 run that gave East Carolina an 80-66 lead with 6:28 left. Navy never would draw closer than 11.
Reddick's 24 points came on seven-of-11 shooting from the field. Forward Sam Cook scored 15 for Navy.
For East Carolina, sophomore guard Richardson, who hit three three-pointers, scored 21 points. He made a conference-record eight three-pointers and scored a career-high 36 in an 85-69 victory at Navy last year.
"Steve shot really well, and it's a tribute to him to keep his head in the game after not starting," Steele said of Richardson, who entered the game leading the team in scoring with 16.9 points per game. "I wanted to bring Steve off the bench to play the three spot [small forward] some. He did a good job."
The Midshipmen will have but one full day to get their offense in gear, as they will play host to UNC-Wilmington tomorrow. Navy depends heavily on the three-point shot, but made only nine of 30 yesterday, which helped hold the team's shooting to 41.4 percent. Navy also turned over the ball 21 times.
"We're trying to improve our style of basketball and plan on staying with it," Herrmann said. "[Yesterday] we just lost our composure in regards to offense."
There were other problems also. The Midshipmen allowed the Pirates many second opportunities on the offensive end: East Carolina entered the game shooting 47.4 percent but made 51.5 percent against Navy.
"Any time a team has more assists  than turnovers  against us, it will be hard to be successful," Herrmann said. "We have to make it more chaotic out there. We only got four deflections on passes."