Navy sees its way past Bucknell, 75-61

With Lafayette next, Mids up ante in Patriot League

February 06, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The stage is set for Navy's biggest basketball game of the season.

With league leader Lafayette on the horizon, the Midshipmen tuned up for their showdown yesterday by dismissing Bucknell, the third-best team in the Patriot League, from the regular-season title race, 75-61, yesterday at Alumni Hall.

They will play the only team to beat them in the league Wednesday night in Annapolis.

No one was looking past the Bison (12-9, 4-3), although Navy started sluggishly before building a lead that grew to 27 points midway through the second half.

And coach Don DeVoe believed that his ability to keep center Sitapha Savane active longer than his Bucknell counterpart, Dan Bowen (restricted to 30 minutes by foul trouble), was the difference.

"We had Sitapha on the floor a little longer than they had Bowen," said DeVoe after Navy (16-5, 6-1) captured its sixth straight victory and 16th in the past 18 games. "If he is in the game longer, perhaps they would have been able to do more. But I was still very surprised we were able to push the lead we did."

Trailing 14-10, John Williams and Reggie Skipworth hit three-pointers for Navy, which fed off their success to unleash a 19-5 streak and assume control of the game.

After the break, Bucknell collected one field goal in more than eight minutes, as Navy applied serious defensive pressure. By the time Savane dunked on an assist from Chris Williams, the margin ballooned to 62-35, and Lafayette could start filtering into the Mids' minds.

The Bison rallied to 66-56, but was never a serious threat.

Savane, the talented 6-foot-8 senior from Senegal, had another sterling game with 25 points, six rebounds, five blocks and two steals. And, he did it this time with Bowen, who missed the first meeting with an infected foot, in the Bucknell lineup.

"He is a better player than I realized before," Savane said of Bowen, a 6-9, 240-pound senior who easily paced the losers with 21 points and 12 rebounds. "But we definitely didn't think ahead of this team; we had to win here first."

Navy completely shut off the perimeter to the senior-dominated Bucknell shooters -- the Bison was 0-for-8 from three-point range -- and scored 75 points against the most effective defense in the league.

The triumph gave the Midshipmen an 11-2 record at home and pushed them to 21-3 against the Bison in Annapolis.

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