Rallying Navy lands NCAA berth Trailing most of game, Mids overtake Bucknell for Patriot title, 76-75

March 06, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Hassan Booker scored 25 points and broke a tie with a three-point play in the final 1: 30, and Navy held on to beat Bucknell, 76-75, giving the Mids the Patriot League tournament title and a bid to the NCAA tournament at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.

Booker's big play gave Navy its first lead since midway through the first half.

It is the first NCAA berth since 1994 for Navy, which lost to Missouri in the first round that year.

Navy's all-out hustle was evident in the first five minutes as Brian Walker and Booker harassed the Bison into turnovers that led to a 10-4 lead.

Booker accounted for half the points with a spinning jumper and a three-point play following Heary's three-point shot.

At this point, the Mids had a 6-1 advantage on the boards.

Navy co-captain Michael Green, the defensive specialist, picked two fouls and was replaced by Terrell Hickmon. But this hardly slowed the Mids' offense. Consecutive jumpers by Walker and Heary boosted the margin to 16-5.

This served as a wake-up call for the Bison. Gordon Mboya and Martin Gilliard combined for six straight points to trim the margin to 16-11 and draw a loud response from the large contingent of students who made the trip from Lewisburg, Pa.

Booker ended this streak with a layup. Navy then went scoreless for three minutes while Bucknell put together a 12-0 run for a 23-18 cushion. Senior center Tom Welch accounted for the last seven points for a 23-18 lead.

The see-saw pattern continued. A rebounding basket by Navy reserve Skip Victor and a three-point play by Walker produced 23-23 tie. Gilliard then hit his third straight shot, a three-pointer, to reclaim the lead, 26-23.

Navy was getting only one shot a possession against the taller Bison. The Mids' frustration grew when Hickmon was charged with a flagrant foul against Mboya, who hit both free throws to give Bucknell its biggest lead at 30-25.

The Bison retained the margin at halftime, 34-29, with Walker missing a breakaway layup just before the buzzer.

Bucknell made 45 percent of its shots (13-for-29) in the first half to Navy's 12 of 33, for 36 percent. Walker, Booker and Heary each had nine points for the Mids, matching Welch.

The 23-14 rebounding advantage by the Bison was the most significant statistic. Navy had consistently out-rebounded the opposition this season.

Welch continued to torment the Mids in the opening minutes of the second half. His jumper and three-point play made it 39-31.

After Booker rebounded a Heary miss, 6-8 forward Dan Bowen scored on two straight post-up moves and suddenly the Bison led, 43-33.

But Navy kept scratching back. Walker made a short jumper and Booker followed with a three-point play off an offensive rebound to close the margin to 43-38.

DeVoe inserted 6-11 center Josh Williams to cover Bowen down low. But Booker, defending the more mobile Welch, picked up his third personal with 15: 22 left.

But DeVoe left Booker in the game, and the junior forward's layup cut Navy's deficit to 44-42. Welch answered with a three-point play, and when Holden followed with a three-pointer, Bucknell had boosted its lead to 50-42.

After two free throws by Heary made it 50-46, Booker drew his fourth foul and had to be benched with 11: 29 left.

But DeVoe hurried him back in the game two minutes later after Welch's bank shot gave the visitors a five-point spread. Welch was unstoppable in the low post, hitting seven of 10 shots.

Two free throws by Green and a three-pointer by Seth Schuknecht left Bucknell clinging to a 54-53 lead. But the Bison maintained their poise and forged ahead 60-55 on Gilliard's rebounding basket.

The Navy fans grew louder with 3: 15 left when Walker's three-pointer created a 62-62 tie. But Walker could not contain Holden on the other end. His floater in the lane made it 64-62 before Heary's layup tied it again.

Gilliard then made two free throws to give Bucknell a 66-64 edge with 2: 24 to play.

NCAA bids

Schools that have received automatic bids to the Division I men's NCAA tournament and conferences that will decide their bids tonight:

Decided

Big South: Charleston Southern

Big Ten: Minnesota

Colonial: Old Dominion

Ivy League: Princeton

Metro Atlantic: Fairfield

Mid-Continent: Valparaiso

Midwestern Collegiate: Butler

Missouri Valley: Illinois State

Ohio Valley: Murray State

Pacific-10: UCLA

Patriot: Navy

Southern: Tenn.-Chattanooga

Sun Belt: South Alabama

Trans America: C. of Charleston

West Coast: St. Mary's

To be decided today

Northeast: Monmouth at Long Island

Patriot League tournament

First round

Saturday

Bucknell 84, Lehigh 54

Colgate 104, Army 79

Lafayette 70, Holy Cross 65

Semifinals

Sunday

Navy 96, Lafayette 57

Bucknell 71, Colgate 58

Championship

Last night

Navy 76, Bucknell 75

Pub Date: 3/06/97

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