Loss leaves Navy with bad taste

February 13, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

Just when it appeared Navy was destined to taste a historic victory, the Midshipmen fell apart and were left to digest a bitter defeat.

Navy staged a clinic in the opening 20 minutes, combining inside strength and accurate three-point shooting for a 15-point halftime lead. And with 13:23 left, Navy was cruising with a 16-point advantage.

But the final 13 minutes were an utter disaster for the Midshipmen. Their offense, hurt by turnovers, foul trouble and Lafayette's pressure defense, stalled. Meanwhile, Navy's defense was unable to stop the revived Leopards, who rallied for 32 points in the final 13 minutes to stun the Midshipmen, 68-63, before 1,744 at Alumni Hall.

Navy (10-12, 5-5) saw its three-game winning streak end. The Midshipmen also missed a chance to move into second place in the Patriot League, not to mention an opportunity to hit the .500 mark for the first time in six years.

It wasn't pretty for the Midshipmen. After hitting 60 percent of its shots in the first half, Navy managed only five baskets in the second half, making only 23.8 percent of its attempts.

The Midshipmen also missed seven of 15 free throws in the second half, while forwards Larry Greene and Wes Cooper -- who had combined for 19 points in the first half-- fell into foul trouble and did not score after halftime. Navy also committed 21 turnovers.

"We're a fragile team with gaps. And a fragile team with gaps cannot lose its focus, and it has to out-hustle its opponent. We didn't do those things," said Navy coach Don DeVoe, whose team had won five of its past six before yesterday. "Lafayette very much deserved to win this game. They worked us over good around the basket, and they did a nice job of beating us down the floor."

Lafayette (8-13, 4-5) won for only the third time on the road since joining the Patriot League last season. The Leopards won despite trailing by double digits for much of the game, and with their top scorer, guard Keith Brazzo (eight points) in a scoreless slump for nearly 30 minutes.

"We had to get off of our duffs and play with a little emotion," Lafayette coach John Leone said. "We've been down before, and we've managed to come back. We play the game with energy and aggressiveness."

The Leopards played with an admirable, never-say-die approach that paid off. Taking advantage of Navy's weakened inside game, the Leopards beat the Midshipmen down low repeatedly. They also used full-court pressure and a 1-3-1 zone defense to frustrate Navy, while going 16-for-18 at the free-throw line in the second half.

Jim Hamilton led Navy with 14 points on 4-for-9 shooting from three-point range. He had three of Navy's second-half baskets.

Lafayette guard Craig Kowaola led all scorers with 19 points and also grabbed a game-high seven rebounds. Forward Joe Marshall added 17 points.

Early, it seemed Navy would move up in the Patriot League standings. After falling behind, 13-8, the Midshipmen went on a six-minute 15-0 run. With 8:40 left in the half, they took a 23-13 lead on a three-pointer by Victor Mickel, who also held Brazzo scoreless in the first half.

One minute into the second half, Hamilton hit a three-pointer to give Navy its largest lead, 45-27. His next three-pointer gave the Midshipmen a 52-36 lead with 13:23 remaining.

From there, Lafayette started its own 15-0 run. Kowaola capped it by converting a three-point play that closed Navy's lead to 52-51 with 8:06 to go. John Wilkins hit two free throws to tie the score at 57 with 6:18 left.

A three-point play by Brian Walker gave the Midshipmen a 60-57 lead, but Brazzo scored five points over the next four minutes, while Navy center Alex Kohnen made only two of six foul shots in that span. Brazzo's three-pointer put Lafayette in front to stay, 66-62 with 1:35 left.

LAFAYETTE -- Kowaola 6-13 7-7 19, Brazzo 2-9 3-4 8, Bennett 0-0 0-0 0, Marshall 7-13 3-5 17, Scott 1-3 0-0 2, Doran 1-2 1-2 3, Wilkins 1-2 2-2 4, Norton 1-6 6-9 8, Panko 3-4 1-1 7. Totals 22-52 23-30 68.

NAVY -- Walker 3-3 3-5 9, Hall 0-3 0-0 0, Ra.Torgrimson 2-5 5-6 11, Holden 0-1 0-0 0, Green 4-6 3-3 11, Hamilton 4-11 2-2 14, Mickel 1-3 1-2 4, Cooper 4-9 0-1 8, Kohnen 0-1 2-6 2, Hughes 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 20-46 16-25 63.

Halftime--Navy, 42-27. 3-point goals--L 1-7 (Brazzo 1-1, Kowaola 0-2, Marshall 0-2, Norton 0-2); N 7-18 (Hamilton 4-9, Ra.Torgrimson 2-4, Mickel 1-3, Hall 0-2). Fouled out--Panko, Green. Rebounds--L 32 (Kowaola 7); N 31 (Green 7). Assists--L 6 (Brazzo, Kowaola 2); N 11 (Hall, Mickel 3). Total fouls--L 22, N 25. A--1,744.

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