Midshipmen arrive prepared, top Lehigh, 81-57, for 3rd in row

January 14, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

Navy made it look easy last night.

While winning their third game in a row for the first time since the 1987-88 season, the maturing Midshipmen thoroughly dominated Lehigh and rolled to an 81-57 Patriot League victory at Alumni Hall.

Navy (4-7, 2-0) already has exceeded its total of one win in the league last season.

"They just came ready and really skunked us," Lehigh guard Rich Hudock said.

Forward Wes Cooper led with 21 points, and he, James Norris, Chuck Robinson and Victor Mickel all reached double-figure scoring for the third consecutive game.

But the most telling statistic was a 39-15 Navy rebound advantage, a discrepancy indicating that the Engineers were out-fought all night.

"From beginning to end, we were very consistent with almost all phases of the game," Navy coach Don DeVoe said. "We started scoring, finished scoring and really focused defensively. This was a game we desperately needed. Everything up until now has been a close encounter. This is very rewarding."

Lehigh (2-10, 0-1) led once, 7-4, as the margin swelled continuously throughout the game. Navy's biggest lead was 26 points, 76-50, with 1:03 remaining.

The adaptation to a new coach and a new system has started. Plus, after 20 days without a game last month, the team apparently is focused on basketball.

"We're just starting to jell," said Norris, who contributed 12 points and six rebounds. "The first half, I stepped up [with 10 points], and when they doubled on me the second half, Wes just crushed them. We're getting more team-oriented."

Cooper packed 16 points into the final 20 minutes after making only two of seven attempts in the first half.

"We're moving more inside and using a lot of patience," Cooper said of Navy's proclivity to get easy shots. "And the guards are doing a better job of feeding us."

On the opposite side, Mickel comfortably held down Engineers guard Chuck Penn, who entered the game with a 23-point average. Penn finished with 13 points, but scored three baskets in the final six minutes after the outcome had been decided.

The Midshipmen were shooting a shade under 38 percent from the floor before this game. That average climbed significantly after they made 32 of 54 attempts (59.2 percent) against a young team that has a 19-year-old average in the starting lineup.

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