Navy has enough, holds off Holy Cross Midshipmen open door but survive, 67-63

January 18, 1996|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Navy repeatedly frittered away comfortable leads last night, but survived a last-ditch rally to edge visiting Holy Cross, 67-63, and reach 3-0 in Patriot League play.

The Midshipmen (8-7 overall) led 66-55 with 53 seconds left, but kept missing free throws in the final minute when they converted only one of six attempts.

Five points by Holy Cross senior guard Brian Lockhart cut the deficit to 66-60 with 28 seconds remaining.

The Crusaders (4-10, 1-2) then had an opportunity to draw even closer after Navy point guard Brian Walker missed both free throws with 21 seconds left.

But consecutive three-point attempts by Damion Ezell and co-captain Ted Bettencourt (16 points, six assists) bounced off the rim and the Crusaders were forced to foul.

Freshman Seth Schuknecht then made one of two free throws to give Navy a seven-point cushion before the Crusaders' Chris Rojick beat the buzzer with a three-pointer.

"We have to learn how to preserve the lead," said Navy coach Don DeVoe, who saw the Mids blow most of a 15-point (32-17) advantage in the first half.

"We didn't put it away in the end like a mature team will do, but we still made a lot of clutch baskets in the last five minutes."

Fast-blossoming sophomore Eddie Lucas again contributed most of the key shots in crunch time.

Twice voted Patriot League Player of the Year this season, the fluid 6-foot-6 forward from Redlands, Calif., scored a team-high 21 points and also matched sophomore swing man Hassan Booker with eight rebounds.

Lucas was at his best after Holy Cross had closed to 57-53 with 2:27 to play. He drew a foul on a hard baseline drive and converted both free throws.

And he followed a minute later with a three-point play off a short jumper to provide a 62-53 cushion with 1:26 left.

"We were aware of how hot Lucas has been lately," said Holy Cross coach Bill Raynor, "but good players find ways to score. We played him man-to-man, with a zone, and even doubled him sometimes. But he still found ways to hurt us."

Said Lucas, "In the first half we concentrated on trying to get the ball inside to our big men. But in the second half, I started feeling it and looking for my shot."

Booker also played a pivotal role in the second half after being almost totally out of sync in the first half, which finished with the Mids leading 34-25.

With Navy leading 55-50, Booker grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Schuknecht for a layup. And the aggressive 6-3 sophomore gave his team a 66-55 advantage by scoring a breakaway layup.

"Hassan is playing out of position," DeVoe said of his undersized pivotman. "But he can play at this level because of the way he runs the floor, battles for loose balls and fights for rebounds."

HOLY CROSS -- Bettencourt 7-14 0-1 16, Ezell 2-6 0-1 5, Hightower 0-1 0-0 0, Lockhart 4-6 1-2 10, Rojick 5-9 1-1 13, Hart 0-1 0-0 0, Tutwiler 1-5 0-0 2, Driscoll 0-2 0-0 0, Brown 6-11 5-7 17, Kerr 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-56 7-12 63.

NAVY -- Lucas 6-12 7-9 21, Walker 2-10 0-2 4, Schuknecht 4-7 2-3 1-, Sladky 1-2 0-2 2, Heary 2-9 0-0 5, Hamilton 1-4 0-0 3, Height 3-6 0-0 6, Booker 4-8 0-1 8, Green 1-4 2-2 4, Kohnene 1-2 2-2 4, Lookabill 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-65 13-21 67.

Halftime -- N 34-25. Three-point goals -- HC 6-16 (Bettencourt 2-6, Rojick 2-4, Lockhart 1-1, Ezell 1-4, Brown 0-1); N 4-14 (Lucas 2-4, Heary 1-4, Hamilton 1-4, Walker 0-2). Fouled out -- Hart, Green. Rebounds -- HC 34 (Tutwiler 8); N 45 (Lucas, Booker 8). Assists -- HC 14 (Bettencourt 6); N 16 (Walker 5). Total fouls -- HC 22, N 17. A -- 1,601.

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