Victor spoils Northeastern rally, leads Midshipmen to 85-72 win Navy's 22-point lead cut to 8 before crucial steals

November 21, 1998|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

What a difference a year makes.

Last season, Navy shot 28 percent from the field and was routed by Northeastern in Boston by 33 points.

Last night in Annapolis, the Midshipmen gained revenge with an 85-72 victory that would have been a lot more lopsided save for some sloppy ball-handling in the second half.

After limiting the cold-shooting Huskies (1-1) to five field goals in the first half, the Mids (2-0) opened up a 58-36 lead with 12 minutes remaining.

But then Navy's inexperience began to show. A sudden rash of turnovers allowed Northeastern to close to 71-63 with 3: 34 left. But senior guard and team captain Skip Victor came to the rescue.

The MVP in last year's Patriot League tournament, Victor used his quick hands to swipe the ball from Jean Bain and raced down court for a layup.

"I had to step up and get something going," said Victor, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half.

"We had that big lead and started getting careless. This is a young team that still has to learn to push it hard to the bitter end."

Following another Victor steal, John Williams scored on an out-of-bounds play. It became a 77-63 cushion on a dunk by center Josh Williams with 2: 14 left.

Northeastern cut the deficit to 10 on baskets by Marquis Wright and Terry Kringe before the Mids finally put the Huskies away with a 6-0 run.

Northeastern coach Rudy Keeling was stunned by the dramatic turnaround from a year ago.

"Last year, Navy came into our gym with a couple of ballyhooed players, Michael Heary and Hassan Booker, but we really took it to them.

"This year, we were playing against a bunch of guys I really knew little or nothing about and it was hard to gauge this team. But this group is a lot more athletic and also proved to be a lot tougher than we were. They really out- muscled us on the boards."

Last year, Northeastern enjoyed a 67-44 rebounding edge. This time, the Mids, led by sophomore forward Robert Reeder (11 points, 11 rebounds), controlled the boards, 53-34.

Navy got an unexpected lift from lanky 6-foot-10 sophomore Mike Cunningham, who contributed 12 points and six rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.

While all five Navy starters scored in double figures, the Huskies were almost a one-man offensive show. Sophomore guard Marcus Blossom used his quickness off the dribble to score a career-high 27.

But Blossom also exhibited a temper and was reprimanded by his coach for staging a verbal battle with the Navy pep band in the closing minutes.

In the end, the Huskies had just too much ground to make up, and reverted to their first-half ball-handling woes when they had Navy's youngsters showing signs of fatigue.

"It was a big win for us considering what we did against this team last year," said Navy coach Don DeVoe. "But obviously, we still have a lot of work to do."

Pub Date: 11/21/98

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