On rebound, Navy hammers Harvard

After rout by Wake, Mids defense sparks run en route to 93-60 win

January 03, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Navy followed its most lopsided loss of the basketball season with its most impressive overall performance last night at Alumni Hall.

After enduring a 32-point loss from fourth-ranked Wake Forest last Friday, the Midshipmen started the new year off with a bang by dominating Harvard, 93-60, before 1,823 appreciative spectators.

It was the seventh victory in the last 10 games for Navy (7-5), which struggled to beat the Crimson by two points on Chris Williams' buzzer-beating shot last season.

Harvard entered the night with a 6-4 record, the best among Ivy League members, and had won three of its previous four games. Moreover, the team was averaging 74 points a game and shooting nearly 47 percent from the field.

But the Navy defense wasn't buying those figures during a telltale stretch that began with 9:25 remaining in the first half. With Harvard trailing 28-21, the Midshipmen unleashed a 16-0 run that assured their 18th win in the 21-game series.

During this period, the Crimson went 0-for-12 from the floor, committed five turnovers and had three shots rejected. Many of the missed field-goal attempts were rushed or shot from awkward positions as Navy defenders stepped up their attack.

At 29 seconds left in the half, Sam Winter scored on a bank shot to trim the deficit to 44-23 at intermission, but the damage was irreversible for Harvard.

"I was really impressed with our effort," said Navy coach Don DeVoe. "Without a question, that is the best 40 minutes of basketball we've played this year. We seemed to have the focus we haven't had in the past, especially at home. We finally struck the chord."

DeVoe has been substituting with zeal and has junked the all-senior lineup that started the first eight games because he felt the team wasn't producing enough early offense.

Jason Jeanpierre took care of that problem last night, sinking two three-pointers and scoring on a drive to help the Midshipmen into a 19-8 lead. Harvard managed to stay competitive for a few more minutes before fresh Navy legs coming off the bench began to wear down the opposition.

"We went down to Wake and they showed us why they are No. 4 in the country," said Jeanpierre. "But we knew we could have played better. We just wanted to beat a team like Wake beat us."

The Crimson's shorter bench began to cost them in the second half of the first period as Navy poured it on.

"We tried to take them out with our defense," said Jeanpierre. "We knew they would sub very little and that if we stayed in their faces, they would get tired."

Harvard had one brief flurry early in the second half, trimming the deficit to 15 twice before Navy pulled away convincingly again as Reggie Skipworth ignited a surge with a three-point basket. Skipworth and Jeanpierre both pitched in 12 points behind Williams' game-high 22.

"This team [Harvard] has been knocking down threes regularly and they didn't get any until the last few minutes of the game," said DeVoe. "They only shot one free throw in the first half. We had that focus we've been looking for. Coming off that butt-kicking we took, we didn't have any option but to go for it."

Dan Clemente, who poured in 30 points in Harvard's last game, made only five of 17 attempts and finished with 12 points. A big factor in that was Navy center Michael Cunningham, who didn't score but blocked five shots to lead the interior defense that kept Clemente under wraps.

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