Savane, Navy roll on, 80-72

But center turns ankle stopping William & Mary

February 01, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

When Navy accelerates its defensive pressure, the result is usually bad news for an opponent.

For five minutes at the end of the first half last night, William and Mary felt the sting of the Midshipmen's vice, succumbing to a 17-2 run that carried Navy to an 80-72 non-league victory in a physical game at Alumni Hall.

The triumph was the ninth in the past 10 games for Navy (14-5), which suffered a scare near the finish when center Sitapha Savane crumbled to the floor after apparently hooking feet with a teammate. The preliminary diagnosis is a sprained left ankle for the player the Mids can least afford to lose.

"There's no reason to think it's anything more than a sprain," said coach Don DeVoe after his team's 10th consecutive win at home.

Savane (23 points, nine blocks, seven rebounds, five steals and two assists) was clearly the difference in a game in which Navy went to the free-throw line 51 times and sank 35 to account for its winning margin.

His presence kept the Tribe's inside game flustered for the 30 minutes Savane was on the court. "Sitapha would not let them score in there," said DeVoe. "He owned this game from a defensive standpoint."

While the Midshipmen had a frustrating start with their shooting, William and Mary (7-12) eased into a 25-21 lead with 5: 44 remaining in the first half. The Tribe, which has lost five straight, did not hit another field goal before the intermission.

"During that stretch, we had a combination on the floor that had patience, got shots inside, made their free throws and played intense defense," said the coach. "This wasn't the prettiest game. I think our guys understand they can win the rest of them if they can stay motivated."

William and Mary is a big, bulky team that was reduced to firing 20 three-point attempts because Savane was such a force inside.

"They were pretty big down low," said Navy forward Robert Reeder, who had 13 points and seven rebounds. "We were knocking each other around pretty good."

Navy shot only 36 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers but persevered.

Savane's presence is of utmost importance as the Mids head into a crucial stretch of Patriot League games against Colgate, Bucknell and league-leading Lafayette.

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