It was a game of ugly offensive basketball and poor ball possession, but Navy flourished at the foul line in the final eight minutes and pulled away to a 60-49 victory over Pittsburgh last night at Alumni Hall.
The Midshipmen had only one field goal in that span, a layup by Michael Green after a Brian Walker steal, but hit 14 of 16 from the line to secure the victory before 2,259 fans.
Seth Schuknecht scored 14 points in the second half and finished with 18 for Navy (2-1), which bounced back from Sunday's loss to Towson State to get its first victory against a Big East team since David Robinson led the Midshipmen to victory over Syracuse in the 1986 NCAA tournament.
"We were not a good basketball team in the first half. We were totally disjointed [17 turnovers]," said Navy coach Don DeVoe. "I was proud of the way we came out the second half and refused to be intimidated."
Pitt's superior height and muscle could not overcome Navy's grit and quickness in a game in which DeVoe was forced to play a lineup with no one taller than 6 feet 6 after 6-11 center Josh Williams picked up three fouls in the first 6 1/2 minutes.
The Midshipmen won because they knocked home 23 of 27 free-throw attempts and out-hustled Pitt to the rebounds, 39-25. Combined, the two teams shot 40 per cent and committed 19 more turnovers than field goals (55-36).
Terrell Hickmon's two foul shots pushed Navy in front to stay, 46-45, with 6: 21 remaining, then Walker, who has yet to score a field goal this season, swiped the ball from Panthers freshman Kelli Taylor.
Walker missed a layup, but Green converted the rebound and after another Pitt turnover, Hassan Booker drilled two foul shots to push Navy in front by five.
Schuknecht added two more free throws and Pitt (0-2) was never closer than five the rest of the way.
"The sun just shined a little brighter on us tonight," said Schuknecht, a 6-6 sophomore. "We had to use our quickness. Hassan [6-3] and I are not all that much to look at compared to their size."
Navy committed 17 giveaways in a topsy-turvy first half, but seized a one-point (29-28) halftime lead because Pitt couldn't convert enough once it pushed the ball inside.
But the Midshipmen bought the time they needed to get their bearings.
"Our guys are not used to these kinds of physical games in the Patriot League," said DeVoe. "In the first half, we were in a mad rush trying to do too much at once.
"But we finally settled in and got the job done. We found a way to win the game. They [Pitt] never did get into the one-and-one the second half and we played man-to-man until the last six minutes."
Pitt played its second straight game without senior Chad Varga, one of its best players who is out with a stress fracture.
The Panthers, who were making their first visit to Annapolis since 1960, received little help from ex-Morgan center Gerald Jordan (0 points in eight minutes).
Vonteego Cummings and Taylor, the guards, led the Panthers with 15 and 13 points, respectively, although Pitt spent most of the first half feeding its front line.
Pub Date: 11/27/96