Navy dumps Lafayette, 96-57, in Patriot semis Mids streak to 14-2 lead, open 2nd half with 14-1 run

March 03, 1997|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Victories are not supposed to come this easily in a conference tournament.

But crushing defense applied by Navy paralyzed Lafayette's attack and the top-seeded Midshipmen rolled into the Patriot League championship game with a record 96-57 romp at the Stabler Arena last night.

The 39-point margin was the largest ever in a Patriot League tournament game.

Navy (19-8) will host the title game Wednesday, meeting second-seeded Bucknell (18-10) at Alumni Hall at 9: 30 p.m. Bucknell brushed off Colgate and Adonal Foyle in the other semifinal, 71-58.

The Midshipmen seized the initiative immediately, streaking ahead 14-2, weathered a mild Lafayette rally, then scored 14 of the first 15 second-half points to turn it into a runaway.

"I can't think of any game I've coached or a bigger game in which a team of mine continued to get better as the game went along," said Navy coach Don DeVoe. "There was never a lull. It was a spectacular game on our part."

The tenor of the game was established quickly -- to Navy's liking. It was nose-to-nose and physical and the young Leopards cracked. They had difficulty holding onto the ball and getting off any decent shots.

"We thought it was important to come out and put pressure on them right away," said senior point guard Brian Walker.

Lafayette committed 17 first-half turnovers and took just 15 shots and finished with 28 turnovers and 36 field-goal attempts, although DeVoe cleared the bench with six minutes to play.

The physical superiority of the Midshipmen was further reflected in a 45-21 edge on the boards.

"We had a great team win," said junior swingman Michael Heary. "The mark of this team is that somebody kind of picks up if somebody is not doing well. We're mature and focused."

The somebody having an off-night was top scorer Heary, who couldn't get it going from three-point range and wound up 4-for-16 from the floor.

"We found other ways to score and Michael played some at the point," said DeVoe, whose team won its eighth straight and 11th in the last 12 games.

Heary compensated by sinking all 16 free throws -- six following technical fouls against the Leopards -- and distributing a team-high five assists.

Lafayette's program is in a rebuilding phase under coach Fran O'Hanlon, but the Leopards gave Navy two highly competitive games during the regular season.

And they appeared to be clawing their way back into this game after the horrid start, pulling to within 32-28 just before halftime.

Then, two free throws by Terrel Hickmon and a steal by Skip Victor -- who fed Mike Palumbo for a layup before the buzzer -- regained the Navy momentum.

"That play got us into the groove going into halftime," said Victor. "The second half, we just kept right on going."

LAFAYETTE -- Ehlers 7-13 8-10 23, Cole 2-6 4-4 8, Ciosici 1-2 1-6 3, Gilbert 0-2 3-4 3, Ofori 0-0 0-0 0, Ellis 1-4 0-0 2, Homer 1-2 0-0 3, Harms 0-1 2-2 2, Shaw 0-1 0-0 0, Klaus 2-3 4-4 10, Klinkhammer 0-0 1-2 1, Lucas 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 14-36 25-34 57.

NAVY -- Booker 4-7 2-3 10, Green 4-5 0-0 9, Palumbo 3-4 2-4 8, Walker 3-5 0-0 6, Heary 4-16 16-16 25, Hickmon 0-2 3-4 3, Schuknecht 2-7 0-0 4, Wall 0-0 0-0 0, Sladky 1-1 4-4 6, Smith 0-3 0-0 0, Williams 2-5 1-1 5, Victor 3-5 1-2 7, Fletcher 1-1 3-4 5, Height 2-4 2-3 6, Lookabill 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 30-67 34-41 96.

Halftime--Navy 36, Lafayette 28. 3-point goals--Lafayette 4-13 (Klaus 2-2, Homer 1-2, Ehlers 1-5, Gilbert 0-2, Ellis 0-2), Navy 2-18 (Green 1-1, Heary 1-10, Booker 0-1, Walker 0-1, Lookabill 0-1, Schuknecht 0-2, Smith 0-2). Fouled out--Cole, Homer, Harms. Rebounds--Lafayette 21 (Ehlers 5), Navy 45 (Booker 9). Assists--Lafayette 8 (Gilbert 3), Navy 16 (Heary 5). Total fouls--Lafayette 32, Navy 33. Technicals--Ofori, Cole, Lafayette bench. A--3,438.

Pub Date: 3/03/97

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