Navy rips Air Force for first opening win in 5 years

November 28, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

Led by freshman Scott Holden and unheralded junior T. J. Hall, the Naval Academy won its first basketball opener in five years, beating Air Force, 77-63, before an Alumni Hall holiday crowd of 1,883.

The Midshipmen used a 15-0 run to take a 64-52 lead with five minutes left and were never seriously threatened in this renewal of the inter-service rivalry that abruptly ended in 1985.

Holden, a slender plebe from Cape May, N.J., showed unusual poise in his college debut. He ran the offense, contributed 14 points and six assists and also shut down Air Force's top threat, Otis Jones, in the last 11 minutes when the Midshipmen took control.

Hall, who played a total of 24 minutes in two games as a sophomore, when he spent most of his time with the JV, played 33 minutes off the bench yesterday.

Air Force coach Reggie Minton hardly mentioned Hall in his pre-game scouting report. It proved a gross oversight.

Hall scored 19 points, including several clutch shots with the time clock expiring, and added a game-high four steals by diving for every loose ball, a habit that produced a black eye.

"He was everywhere," Navy coach Don DeVoe said of the energetic New York native.

DeVoe played a hunch in giving Hall big minutes after he had failed to play in either of the Mids' two preseason games and shot poorly in Friday's practice.

"It was just a feeling," DeVoe said. "He gives us a certain chemistry on the floor. He could start for us, but I think T. J. could prove more useful as a sixth man, sort of our John Havlicek."

The flattering comparison must have stunned Hall, who had to wonder if he'd ever get his chance.

"I just kept plugging," Hall said. "If you do that, you'll eventually get your shot."

The Mids also got strong off-the bench performances from junior forward Wes Cooper (11 points, nine rebounds) and Alex Kohnen, the 6-foot-11 sophomore center who scored his team's first eight points in the second half on a delicate inside touch.

When Holden converted a steal for a basket and Larry Green converted a rebound, the Mids had built a 49-42 advantage. But the Falcons used their quickness and outside shooting of Jones (25 points) to rally for a 52-49 lead.

Holden tied it with a three-pointer to ignite the 15-0 spurt while the Falcons struggled six minutes without a point.

"Our guys really hustled on defense," said DeVoe. "I don't know how many charging fouls we drew, but it was significant."

But controlling Jones, who failed to score for 11 minutes before making a meaningless layup in the final seconds, proved key.

"We spent a lot of time practicing different defenses to stop him," said Holden. "He's the quickest guard I ever played. He's tough. I'm not too happy we have to play him again [in Colorado Springs] in nine days."

DeVoe could only find one fault with his new floor leader.

"Scott's too unselfish," the coach said. "He's always looking to drive and dish. I keep telling him to think of getting his own shot first, but that's the way he has always played this game."

But with Holden directing traffic, the Mids shot 55 percent from the field after shooting 41 percent last year in finishing 8-19.

AIR FORCE -- Jones 8-19 5-8 25, Dutton 0-0 0-0 0, Parker 0-1 0-0 0, Kay 0-0 0-0 0, Minton 0-5 1-2 1, Bell 2-4 0-0 4, Loll 6-15 2-2 15, Garey 0-0 0-0 0, Morgan 3-3 1-3 7, Barrett 1-3 2-4 4, Nelson 2-4 3-5 7. Totals 22-54 14-24 63.

NAVY -- Butler 0-0 0-0 0, Walker 0-2 0-0 0, Norris 2-2 2-4 6, Torgrimson 0-1 0-0 0, Holden 5-9 2-3 14, Green 2-4 0-0 4, Hamilton 3-4 3-4 11, Mickel 0-1 0-2 0, Cooper 4-6 3-6 11, Kohnen 6-10 0-2 12, Hall 6-12 6-7 19. Totals 28-51 16-28 77.

Halftime -- Air Force 36-35. 3-point goals -- Air Force 5-15 (Jones 4-9, Minton 0-4, Loll 1-2), Navy 5-9 (Holden 2-3, Hamilton 2-2, Hall 1-4). Rebounds -- Air Force 28 (Loll 6), Navy 41 (Cooper 9). Assists -- Air Force 4 (Loll 2), Navy 17 (Holden 6). Total fouls -- Air Force 27, Navy 21. Fouled out -- none. Technicals -- none. A -- 1,883.

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