Navy rides `D' to final

Mids tie up Colgate, 82-56, face Lafayette for Patriot crown

Winning streak hits 13

Leopards have edge as host team Friday

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

EASTON, Pa. -- The preliminaries ended predictably. Now, the real battle for the championship between contenders 1 and 1A can get under way.

Navy avoided a repeat of last year's first-game shooting disaster and routinely ousted fourth-seeded Colgate, 82-56, from the Patriot League men's basketball tournament yesterday at the Allan P. Kirby Center.

So, the Midshipmen will get their showdown with co-favorite Lafayette, which was under pressure all the way before turning back Lehigh, 66-60, in a stirring neighborhood showdown.

The victory was the 13th in a row and 23rd in 25 games for Navy (23-5), which had the advantage of a first-round bye while Lafayette eliminated Army.

Now, the edge shifts to the Leopards, who play host to the title game here Friday after winning the race in the Rating Percentage Index (129-132) and choosing to take home court for the finale rather than the early bye.

The 4: 30 p.m. finale will be televised by ESPN.

Navy suffered its only loss since Dec. 23 at Lafayette, 80-74, on Jan. 16, but Mids forward Chris Williams, who led all scorers yesterday with 18 points, is looking forward to the return match.

"Their crowd really gets into it," Williams said. "The `Zoo Crew' and the rest of the fans are terrific here. But no one is afraid to come back here to play. Actually, we're pretty excited to accept the challenge. In the postseason, you're never going to be on your home court all the time."

Navy put away the Red Raiders with an extraordinary -- but typical -- defensive performance during a 10-minute stretch of the first half. With 11: 09 to go in the half, the Midshipmen led 17-16. With 1: 07 remaining in the half, Colgate scored its next field goal.

During that fateful stretch, the Red Raiders shot 0-for-10 from the field and committed nine turnovers while Navy charged ahead by 17 points. Hello, Lafayette.

"We keep on coming at people in waves," said all-league center Sitapha Savane, who had 16 points and six rebounds. "Our intensity in the first 10 minutes really paid off. They got a little tired and we got some breaks and were able to put together a little run."

Any thoughts about a repeat of last year's 22 percent shooting in the shocking loss to Lehigh were allayed quickly.

Early three-pointers by Jason Jeanpierre and John Williams provided offensive momentum before Navy's smothering defense began leading to some easy baskets.

The Midshipmen finished with 53.8 percent shooting and dominated the boards, with Robert Reeder leading the way with 10 rebounds.

"We're on a great roll right now," said Navy's Don DeVoe, voted the Patriot League's Coach of the Year. "We were anxious to hit the floor because we had finals last week and hadn't played since last Saturday. Hopefully, we have the mustard to go at Lafayette."

The 23 victories are the most by a DeVoe-led team during a 28-year career that includes previous stops at Virginia Tech, Wyoming, Tennessee and Florida.

"This team has far surpassed from what we expected from it offensively," DeVoe said. "And it has played defense as well as any Navy team I've ever coached."

In Lafayette's victory, Patriot League Player of the Year Brian Ehlers, who had struggled offensively the entire game, scored six straight points after a 58-58 tie to finally fend off the sixth-seeded Mountain Hawks, who had upset Bucknell in the quarterfinals.

Lehigh (8-21) missed two three-point attempts in the final minute, finishing 9-for-30 from long range as Lafayette played a zone defense all the way.

Center Stefan Ciosici was the main weapon for the Leopards with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Point guard Tim Bieg hit four three-pointers and finished with 14 points.

Lafayette's record improved to 23-6, including a surprisingly lopsided loss (94-66) at Navy the last time they played.

COLGATE -- Harris 3-9 4-8 11, Campolieta 4-10 4-5 12, Diamond 4-8 1-2 9, Hardy 2-7 8-10 12, Tuohey 3-6 0-0 8, Green 2-6 0-2 4, Ballard 0-2 0-0 0, Kern 0-0 0-0 0, Datcher 0-0 0-0 0, Sullivan 0-3 0-0 0, McElligott 0-0 0-0 0, Akers 0-1 0-0 0, Marek 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 18-55 17-27 56.

NAVY -- Williams 1-2 0-0 3, Reeder 4-8 2-2 10, Savane 6-10 4-8 16, Skipworth 1-4 2-2 4, Williams 5-10 8-9 18, Worthing 2-2 0-0 4, Jeanpierre 2-4 2-5 7, Lewis 2-3 0-2 4, Shepard 1-2 0-0 2, Ebong 1-1 2-2 4, Toton 2-2 0-0 4, Cunningham 0-1 0-0 0, Hil 1-3 2-4 4, Barker 0-0 0-0 0, Long 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 28-52 24-36 82.

Half--Navy 31-21. 3-point goals--C 3-16 (Harris 1-3, Campolieta 0-1, Diamond 0-1, Hardy 0-1, Tuohey 2-3, Green 0-2, Ballard 0-1, Sullivan 0-2, Marek 0-2); N 2-9 (Williams 1-2, Skipworth 0-2, Williams 0-1, Jeanpierre 1-2, Lewis 0-1, Shepard 0-1). Fouled out--Diamond. Rebounds--C 27 (Harris 6); N 44 (Reeder 10). Assists--C 11 (Harris 3); N 14 (Shepard 3). Total fouls--C 23; N 20. A--1,644.

Next for Navy

What: Patriot League tournament title game

Opponent: Lafayette

When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.

Where: Allan P. Kirby Center, Easton, Pa.

TV/Radio: ESPN/Wnav (1430 AM)

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