Navy loses touch, game, 64-63 Leading by nine, Mids go cold, fall to Air Force on Reese's free throws

December 01, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

With 12: 26 remaining and Navy leading Air Force, 52-43, at Alumni Hall yesterday, Michael Heary, the Midshipmen's leading scorer, dropped to the floor in pain.

It was determined that Heary had merely had the wind knocked out of him by an errant elbow. But, this off-the-ball play also knocked Navy's offense completely out of sync.

The Mids would make only three field goals the rest of the game and Air Force used two free throws by senior guard Jarmica Reese with seven seconds remaining to win a 64-63 thriller before 1,717 fans.

Navy (2-2) still had a chance to pull it out in the final seconds. Without a timeout, Heary dribbled the length of the floor and found a seam in the Air Force defense, only to see his layup at the buzzer roll off the rim.

"That shot was really all we could ask for in that situation," Navy coach Don DeVoe said. "We got the ball in the right hands, and if he had shot it a quarter-inch higher, he probably would have made it."

That was the second big shot Heary (3-for-14 from the field) missed in the final minute.

After Air Force's John Schuck made one of two free throws to leave Navy clinging to a 63-62 lead with 45 seconds left, the Mids put the ball in Heary's hands.

He dribbled the clock down to 10 seconds before making a move in the lane. But Schuck made a clean block on his running jumper, setting up an Air Force fast break.

Skip Victor fouled Reese on his drive to the basket. Reese, who was held to 10 points -- 19.5 below his average -- made the two most important shots to give the Falcons a 9-8 lead in the service rivalry.

"Matt Sladky did an excellent job controlling Reese," DeVoe said. "He got 30 against us last year.

"But I was very disappointed in our overall defense. We allowed them to work the ball inside for high-percentage shots. No one should be able to shoot 55 percent [11-for-20] against us in the second half on our home floor."

With Reese kept under wraps, the Falcons capitalized on the strong post moves of reserve forward Billy Humphrey (12 points), center Mike Freeman (11) and forward Louis Stewart, who scored all eight of his points in a 16-5 run that put Air Force ahead, 59-57.

With Navy's two veteran big men, Josh Height and Josh Williams, ineffectual in brief appearances, DeVoe was forced to go with a small lineup, and, ultimately, the tall Air Force front line wore down 6-3 dynamo Hassan Booker, who led the Mids with 16 points and eight rebounds.

Booker, showing signs of fatigue, was held scoreless for the last 16 minutes.

"He was getting the ball on the baseline too easy in the first half," Air Force coach Reggie Minton said. "In the second half, we did a good job denying the entry pass."

Navy shot only 41 percent from the field, and a good deal of the problem could be attributed to the absence of a playmaker.

DeVoe continues to experiment in seeking a replacement for Brian Walker, who ran Navy's offense the previous four years. The coach has auditioned Aaron Smith, Victor and Terrell Hickmon, before turning to Sladky, who has been used as a forward and off guard in the past.

With the lack of a penetrating guard, and Air Force shutting down Heary and Booker in the second half, DeVoe simply ran out of options.

AIR FORCE -- Stewart 2-3 4-5 8, Schuck 1-1 2-5 4, Freeman 5-7 1-1 11, Reese 2-11 6-6 10, Pope 3-5 0-0 8, Garcia 1-1 0-0 2, Yazzie 1-1 0-0 2, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Isenhour 0-1 0-1 0, Humphrey 5-9 2-4 12, Summers 2-2 2-2 7. Totals 22-42 17-24 64.

NAVY -- Schuknecht 1-5 0-0 2, Booker 8-12 0-1 16, Palumbo 4-6 0-0 8, Heary 3-14 8-9 15, Sladky 4-8 0-0 9, Hickmon 4-9 3-3 11, Josh Williams 0-2 0-0 0, Victor 0-0 0-0 0, Toton 0-2 0-0 0, Height 0-0 0-0 0, Lookabill 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 24-58 13-15 63.

Halftime--Navy 33-29. 3-point goals--Air Force 3-8 (Pope 2-3, Summers 1-1, Reese 0-3, Freeman 0-1), Navy 2-6 (Heary 1-5, Sladky 1-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Air Force 32 (Schuck 10), Navy 29 (Booker 8). Assists--Air Force 10 (Reese 4), Navy 15 (Heary 6). Total fouls--Air Force 19, Navy 22. A--1,717.

Pub Date: 12/01/97

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