Booker, Navy handle Bucknell again, 67-56 Forward scores 20, Mids get 14th conference win in row in Patriot rematch

January 22, 1998|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Something about playing Bucknell brings out the best in Navy basketball captain Hassan Booker.

In last year's Patriot League championship game, Booker scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Mids edged the Bison by one point.

In a rematch last night at Alumni Hall, the 6-foot-3 senior forward took charge again, scoring 20 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and handing out a career-high five assists as Navy rolled to a 67-56 victory before 2,844.

It boosted Navy's Patriot League mark to 5-0 and 10-7 overall. The Midshipmen have won 14 straight conference games.

It was not lost on Booker and his Navy teammates that Bucknell (6-11, 2-2) was a preseason favorite to win the league title and its high-scoring senior guard J. R. Holden was the preseason pick for Player of the Year.

"We were really looking forward to this game," said Booker. "We've got a nice rivalry going. For us, beating Bucknell is as big as beating Army."

Holden finished with 19 points, one more than his season average.

But under tight policing by Skip Victor and Terrell Hickmon, he was held to 6-for-16 shooting. Backcourt mate Martin Gilliard chipped in with 17, but the Bison got a combined 16 points out of its frontcourt starters.

Booker gave the credit to Navy big men Josh Williams and Sitapha Savane for shutting down the passing lanes and forcing Holden and Gilliard to create shots on their own.

But it was the all-out hustle and timely shooting of Booker that proved a major difference.

"I've never had a player his size play the way he does," Navy coach Don DeVoe said in praise of Booker. "Hassan has unusual quickness. And he's shooting a great percentage from the field."

Booker made nine of his 14 shots, including a three-pointer, and is shooting 62 percent (94-for-151) for the season to rank among the national leaders.

He scored 14 of his points in the first half when Navy moved to a 35-27 lead.

Bucknell scored the first four points in the second half. But the Midshipmen responded with a 10-3 run, with Victor contributing two layups and an assist on a hoop by Booker to forge a 45-34 lead.

The Bison could draw no closer than nine points the rest of the way.

It was 52-43 with 8: 27 remaining when Booker and Victor (10 points) made consecutive jump shots to settle matters.

DeVoe also got solid performances from fast-improving Josh Williams (nine points, six rebounds) and senior co-captain Michael Heary, who is looking more comfortable in his role as point guard.

Heary scored 11 points -- four below his average -- but he did not force any shots and ran the offense effectively. He also made all four of his free throws and has converted all 23 of his foul shots in conference play.

The Mids embark on a five-game trip beginning with a visit to Hanover, N.H., to face Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon.

"This is really going to test our desire and intensity," said Booker.

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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