As defense commands floor, Navy flattens UMBC, 72-61

Savane blocks six shots

Mids win 8th of past nine

January 04, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Navy still hasn't found the offensive firepower coach Don DeVoe would like to see before Patriot League play opens next week, but the defense is doing just fine.

Last night, the host Midshipmen rode their defensive pressure and center Sitapha Savane's intimidation inside to a 24-point lead and coasted past UMBC, 72-61, in a nonleague game not nearly as close as the final score.

UMBC (4-6) committed 17 first-half turnovers, then made only two baskets in the first eight minutes of the second half to become Navy's eighth victim in its past nine games.

"It was an intense and physical game, the kind you expect when you play at the Naval Academy," Retrievers coach Tom Sullivan said. "And we took very much of a back seat. They did a great job of taking us out of what we wanted to do and beat us like a drum."

With Savane forcing the Retrievers to alter shots when he wasn't swatting away six UMBC attempts, Navy (8-4) overcame a sluggish start to ease into a 39-31 halftime edge, then unleashed an 18-4 run after the break.

"We're doing pretty well when we rally with our defense," DeVoe said. "It's good because we're not shooting the ball very well [40.9 percent from the field, 55.2 percent from the foul line]. Guys are getting good percentage shots and not making them. It tells you something about our hustle when we shoot like that and are still able to produce a 24-point lead."

Savane was often double-teamed on offense but was clearly the presence that foiled UMBC at the other end. The Retrievers never looked comfortable on offense.

"I see myself as a defensive player first," Savane said. "I was double-teamed almost every time I got the ball and then not making my first few shots, I could have got my head down. But I concentrated on the other end."

With about 13 minutes remaining, Savane blocked a dunk attempt by Kennedy Okafor on a fast break to cap his dominance in the lane.

"He is just doing a great job in there," DeVoe said. "He's taking people out of their normal shooting styles and not letting down. We'd be in big trouble without his low-post defense."

Chris Williams -- contact lenses in place for the second game -- again paced the Navy attack, scoring 20 points and equaling Savane's nine rebounds.

"I guess I'm on a little bit of a roll," Williams said. "The contacts give me a little more confidence running the floor."

UMBC completed the non-league portion of its schedule before heading into defense of its Northeast Conference championship. It played most of the game with leading scorer Terence Ward in foul trouble, but he piled up enough points in the final 10 minutes to lead the team with 15.

"With Terence on the bench, we had to get into a little more rotation in the backcourt and wound up with two freshmen handling the ball," Sullivan said.

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