Payback is not on Navy coach Don DeVoe's list of objectives for a basketball season, but, privately, he had to take great satisfaction in what happened at Alumni Hall yesterday.
The Midshipmen didn't want to forget last March's horrendous loss to bottom-seeded Lehigh in the Patriot League tournament and played like they were on a mission.
As a result, Navy bombarded Lehigh, 100-75, for its eighth victory in nine games and clearly regained control of a series it has dominated.
Center Sitapha Savane led the assault with a career-high 27 points and Chris Williams -- who didn't start because he was slightly tardy for the game -- added 13.
"From my perspective, I didn't want to make too big a deal out of the last game. I don't believe in revenge," DeVoe said. "But that was a stinging loss; it hurt greatly."
The players remembered well the effects of a game in which Navy shot 22 percent from the field, its poorest performance ever.
"It was on my mind," Savane said. "That hurt so much. The guys have been talking about it. I couldn't even sleep the last couple nights thinking about this game. As soon as Army was over [Wednesday], I couldn't wait to get to this one."
Navy (13-5, 4-1) scored 100 points for the first time since February 1997, when the victim was also Lehigh. It marked the Midshipmen's fourth 90-or-higher-point game of the season.
With Scott Long starting in place of Williams, Navy shot out to a 17-3 lead while Lehigh (5-14, 1-4) struggled to find an offense. The Mountain Hawks went 1-for-7 from the floor and committed eight turnovers while Navy was building its 14-point lead.
"Long was instrumental in us getting that nice jump," said DeVoe. "Our defense was playing very well and not giving them any second shots."
Freshman Matt Logie kept Lehigh from falling out of sight by hitting four straight three-pointers, but Navy still had a comfortable 16-point cushion at the half.
After the break, Lehigh trimmed the deficit to 52-44 before the Midshipmen -- fueled by Savane's mastery of the paint -- roared away. Two straight dunks by the center launched an 18-2 Navy spree that stretched the lead to 80-51 and ended any mystery about the outcome.
"They came back on us a little bit," Savane said. "And they were getting a little confidence and talking. So we had to take off again. But, in one way it's not too good to beat people by too much or they'll remember and come back on you."
Navy usually has turnover problems, but confined its total to 15 and clearly dominated the boards. The performance was workmanlike.
"This was a good win," DeVoe said. "It keeps us solidly in second place. Now, we go out of the league [William and Mary tomorrow], but that's big, too, because we all have visions of a 20-win season."