HAMILTON, N.Y. -- A month ago in Annapolis, the Navy basketball team limited Colgate's all-time scoring leader, Tucker Neale, to eight points and neutralized 6-foot-10 freshman sensation Adonal Foyle in a 42-point rout.
But it was an entirely different story in the Patriot League tournament championship game yesterday as a boisterous, standing-room crowd of 3,100 tested the capacity of cozy Cotterell Court.
With Neale scoring a game-high 29 points, and Foyle dominating inside with 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks, the Red Raiders beat the Midshipmen, 68-63, and earned Colgate's first trip to the NCAA tournament.
Navy (21-8), which beat Colgate (17-12) in the Patriot League final last year, never got into its offensive rhythm and shot only 34 percent.
Senior center Larry Green, who almost single-handedly kept the Mids' hopes alive in the second half when he scored 13 of his 19 points, was the only Navy player in double figures.
"We felt it was going to be like World War III," said Neale, named the tournament's MVP. "Today, we really kept after them on the perimeter, getting right on their hip, and we let Adonal serve as our eraser inside. When we held them to 14 points in the first half, it gave us a big emotional lift."
Veteran Colgate coach Jack Bruen said he did not allow his team to dwell on the February debacle.
"We never even looked at films of that game," he said. "It was an embarrassment. I think we destroyed the tape."
But Bruen and his staff made all the right adjustments, pressuring Navy scoring leader Michael Heary and T. J. Hall on the outside and keeping the Mids' fleet playmaker, Brian Walker, from penetrating the middle.
Heary, a freshman star who averaged 13.9 points, was 2-for-9 from the field and made his only three-pointer in seven attempts at the final buzzer.
Walker was 3-for-13 from the field, having to bank several shots almost off the top of the backboard to avoid Foyle.
"Their defense set the tone for this game," said Navy coach Don DeVoe. "We struggled to score. They kept after us on the perimeter and Foyle was really active inside, but that is how tournament games are won, especially on your home floor."
With its students getting a chance to show their support before a national TV audience on ESPN, Colgate appeared to be in control, leading 56-42 with 5:09 remaining.
"The crowd gave us a big emotional lift," said Bruen, "and it really made us hunker down on defense."
But the crowd grew uneasy when Navy's defending champions made a last-ditch rally. Two straight three-point shots by junior Jim Hamilton trimmed the deficit to 60-54 with 2:12 left.
Forced to press, Mids picked up costly fouls, and Neale and forward Mike Roberts made free throws boost the advantage to 63-54.
Team captain Wes Cooper gave Navy one final chance, making a three-point play to pul within 63-57 with 61 seconds left. Neale kept the Mids from getting closer than five points with five free throws in the final minute.
"That's what senior leaders are supposed to do," said DeVoe, "and those two free throws Neale hit to make it 67-60 put the final nail in our coffin."
But there is hope of the Mids springing back to life. Athletic director Jack Lengyel is optimistic the National Invitation Tournament selection committee will choose Navy tomorrow night as part of its 32-team field.
"We expect to hear from them right after as the NCAA announces its 64 selections," said Lengyel.