Navy gets it all right this time in dominating Lafayette, 89-67

12-2 opening run sets tone as Midshipmen win sixth of last eight

January 18, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Ten months ago, Navy couldn't do anything right against Lafayette in the biggest game of the Patriot League basketball season. Last night-when they finally met again-the Midshipmen hardly did anything wrong.

Navy's 89-67 victory at Alumni Hall certainly didn't compensate for a lopsided loss to the Leopards in the conference's championship game last March, but it continued to serve notice that this season's title express has to run through Annapolis.

There was no waiting around by the Midshipmen. They applied their usual ferocious defense from the opening whistle, sprinted to a 12-2 lead while the Leopards committed five turnovers and went 1-for-4 from the field and kept the pressure on the rest of the game. Navy's largest lead was 64-40.

It was the sixth victory in the last eight games and third straight for Navy (10-6, 2-0) in the 800th outing of coach Don DeVoe's career. Lafayette (6-9, 0-3) suffered its fifth loss in the last six while continuing to play without sophomore Brian Burke, one of its best shooters who is out indefinitely with a punctured lung.

"It's been motivation for us all season," said Navy center Mike Cunningham, referring to the 87-61 pounding that earned Lafayette the league's NCAA berth in 2000. "It's been in our minds, and we're going to keep it there as we try to reach our goal of going all the way."

"Looking back to that game, we lost and played some of the worst basketball of the year," said Chris Williams. "We had to come out and show them we mean business this year."

The Midshipmen received career point highs from captain Robert Reeder (18) and Cunningham (13), a game-high 21 from the Patriot's leading scorer, Chris Williams, and 14 off the bench from Jehiel Lewis-including 10 in a row at the foul line. Cunningham also chipped in nine rebounds and three blocks.

DeVoe's team dominated the rebounding (40-25), forced 22 Leopard turnovers, and generally disrupted the Lafayette offense. Leading scorer Tyson Whitfield did not have a Lafayette field goal and scored just one point while being tracked by John Williams and Lewis.

"It was a very good start. It was important for us to come out right away and stay focused," said DeVoe. "This Lafayette team has so many weapons. It's all-important for us to be good defensively and get that high-percentage shot. We had some real good hustle plays early."

With Navy ahead by 12, the Leopards fell completely out of touch when the Midshipmen unleashed a 12-0 run that included six points by Lewis, four of them free throws.

Now the team enters its most grueling stretch with six of the next seven games on the road, including Saturday's showdown at Holy Cross, which has been the surprise of the season so far.

"This team has to be ready to prove they are a strong one," said DeVoe.

LAFAYETTE-Farrell 2-2 3-3 7, Barr 4-10 5-6 13, Bieg 2-4 4-4 9, Whitfield 0-4 1-2 1, Saxton 6-9 1-2 14, Dawson 2-5 2-2 7, DeBerry 2-4 0-0 5, Doherty 0-1 0-0 0, Guy 1-5 2-2 5, Morgan 0-1 0-0 0, Munson 0-0 0-0 0, Kuberka 0-1 0-0 0, Dill 1-2 0-0 2, Ablo 1-1 2-2 4, Worthington 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-49 20-23 67. NAVY-C. Williams 7-11 6-6 21, Reeder 5-8 8-9 18, Cunningham 6-8 1-3 13, Shepard 1-4 3-5 5, J. Williams 1-7 0-0 2, Skipworth 1-1 4-6 6, Ofori 0-0 0-0 0, Charles 0-0 0-2 0, Jeanpierre 1-4 0-0 2, Lewis 2-4 10-10 14, Ebong 1-3 1-2 3, McCreary 0-0 0-0 0, Long 0-0 0-4 0, Barker 0-3 3-4 3, Higgins 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 25-53 38-53 89.

Half-Navy, 40-32. 3-point goals-Lafayette 5-18 (DeBerry 1-2, Bieg 1-2, Dawson 1-2, Saxton 1-3, Guy 1-3, Whitfield 0-4, Morgan 0-1, Kuberka 0-1), Navy 1-7 (C. Williams 1-1, Jeanpierre 0-1, Barker 0-2, J. Williams 0-3). Fouled out-Farrell, DeBerry, Dill. Rebounds-Lafayette 25 (DeBerry 4), Navy 40 (Cunningham 9). Assists-Lafayette 9 (Dawson, DeBerry 3), Navy 11 (C. Williams 3). Technical fouls-Lafayette Bench. Total Fouls-Lafayette 32, Navy 23. A-2,896.

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