Navy's half-good effort enough to top Lehigh Mids earn 73-59 victory, share of Patriot season title

February 25, 1996|By John Harris III | John Harris III,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Navy coach Don DeVoe is still waiting for his team to play the perfect 40-minute game. Yesterday, 20-plus minutes was enough for the Midshipmen.

Down 27-20 with 1:46 left in the first half, the host Midshipmen went on a 10-0 run for the remainder of the half that helped propel them to a critical 73-59 Patriot League victory over Lehigh in front of 2,177 at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.

Navy's season-best third straight win tied Colgate for the league's regular-season championship -- the second time in three seasons Navy has at least tied for the title. A coin flip at 11 a.m. today will determine the top seed in next weekend's conference tournament at Holy Cross.

Four different players scored during the pivotal surge that gave the Midshipmen (14-11, 9-3 league) the lead for good. Jim Hamilton's three-pointer started the rally. Seth Schuknecht (eight points) and Michael Green both hit a pair of free throws.

With six seconds left in the half, sophomore guard Michael Heary stripped Lehigh guard Rashawne Glenn as he attempted to penetrate the lane. Heary then dribbled down the left side and made a 25-footer with one second left to send the 2,177 fans into a frenzy.

"Obviously, [the three-pointer] gave us a lot of momentum," said Heary, who finished with nine points. "I don't think we came out ready to play, and they [Lehigh] came out with a lot of intensity."

Green and Eddie Lucas paced the Midshipmen with 13 points each. Noted for his defensive prowess, Green's offensive output was a career high.

"I was fortunate enough to get out on the break to get some easy layups," said Green, who played both at guard and forward. "I don't have the [ball-handling] skills of [Brian] Walker and those guys, so I just tried not to lose the ball on offense."

Green finished off consecutive fast breaks with flying one-handed jams during a 14-4 spurt during the first five minutes of the second half. His three-point play inside started the run.

"We couldn't get the ball in the basket in the first half, but we didn't stop going to the boards and we kept up the pressure on defense," DeVoe said. "It's been a pretty tough week for everybody. This was X-week [exam week] and we also had some kids come down with the flu. Plus, Lehigh always plays us tough here."

The Engineers (4-22, 2-10) had won their previous two games at Alumni Hall. Some horrendous shooting by the host team (8-for-30 during the first half) made it appear that the visitors would make it three straight.

Kem Widmer's three-point jumper just before Navy's turnaround gave Lehigh its largest lead of the game. Glenn led Lehigh in scoring with 11. Senior Alex Kohnen (nine points) and freshman Hassan Booker (six) led the Mids in rebounding with eight each.

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