Navy gets on track, subdues Bucknell

J. Lewis leads Mids to 64-49 victory in Patriot opener

January 13, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The Navy basketball team, beset by a rugged travel schedule, mostly strong opposition and its own inertia, has been having trouble launching any momentum.

But the Midshipmen might have finally emerged from their shell yesterday, forcing Bucknell into 36 turnovers and receiving a career-best effort from senior Jehiel Lewis to capture their home opener in the Patriot League, 64-49.

Lewis barely missed a triple double while thriving in a helter-skelter game, scoring 21 points, making a school- and league-record 12 steals and corralling nine rebounds.

"When I got up and saw the sunshine today, I thought it might be a good omen," Navy coach Don DeVoe said. "As far as I was concerned, this was a beautiful day."

Navy (6-11, 1-1) ended a three-game losing streak that had strapped the team with its worst start in nine years. DeVoe was particularly disappointed after Wednesday's submission at Holy Cross, the Patriot favorite, in the league opener.

"He was disappointed because we did not compete up there," Lewis said. "We were lackadaisical and let Holy Cross come out and bully us. We made up our minds no one was going to come in here and bully us in our own house."

An Alumni Hall gathering of 2,114 watched the Midshipmen speed off to a 10-2 start by focusing on the inside offense of Francis Ebong, who forced the Bison's top threat, Boakai Lalugba, out of the game within three minutes with two fouls.

But Bucknell (5-10, 1-1) hung in gamely despite the absence of its point guard and leading scorer, Bryan Bailey, who has missed nearly half the season with an ankle and knee injuries.

Navy surrendered the lead with 2:20 left in the half (25-24), and remained in a tight contest early in the second period before sprinting away with a 16-0 run ignited by Lewis and reserve Quintrell McCreary, who packed all six of his points into the run.

"We came out and laid it all on the line," said DeVoe. "That is the way Navy has to play to have success. We forced a lot of turnovers and scored a lot of points off them.

"The road [0-9 away from Alumni Hall] has been horrible to us and we've got a lot to prove to ourselves."

Said Lewis: "A team tends to start getting flustered when the other team is coming at you like we were. I was telling everybody that we should be tired of teams coming out and doing what they wanted against us. It was all about making stops."

The Bison managed to cut its second-half deficit to 55-43 before Lalugba (11 points, six rebounds) fouled out with 6:27 remaining.

The absence of Bailey cut into Bucknell's already-thin numbers against Navy, which runs players at its opponents in waves.

"When we have to go deep into our reserves," said Bison coach Pat Flannery, "we've got problems. And Navy just keeps coming and getting you, especially down here. They wore us out."

It wasn't artful for the Midshipmen either. They shot 35 percent from the field and committed 24 turnovers, but the defense and rebounding - DeVoe trademarks-were so domineering Bucknell compiled only four more shots than turnovers.

BUCKNELL-Santos 1-3 0-0 2, Lalugba 3-6 5-11 11, Werner 2-7 2-2 7, Blankenship 4-7 0-0 9, Quinn 0-0 0-0 0, Skornik 0-0 0-0 0, Slater 3-6 1-2 7, Rodgers 4-6 -0 9, Webber 0-0 0-0 0, Namvou 0-0 0-0 0, Glover 0-0 1-2 1, Niesz 0-0 0-0 0, Hardenbergh 0-1 0-0 0, Bennett 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 18-40 9-17 49.

NAVY-J. Lewis 6-10 8-8 21, Moore 1-40-0 2, Ebong 4-12 3-4 11, Jeanpierre 2-6 0-0 6, Shepard 2-6 3-4 7, Fernandez 0-0 0-0 0, McCreary 3-5 0-1 6, Charles 0-0 0 -0 0, Long 1-9 7-8 9, S. Lewis 1-2 0-2 2, Mathews 0-1 0-0 0, Barker 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 20-57 21-27 64.

Halftime-Navy 28-26. 3-point goals-Bucknell 4-10 (Rodgers 1-1, Werner 1-2, Blankensip 1-2, Bennett 1-4, Hardenbergh 0-1), Navy 3-10 ( Jeanpeierre 2-4, J. Lewis 1-2, Shepard 0-1, Mathews 0-1, Barker 0-2). Fouled out-Lalugba. Rebounds-Bucknell 27 (Lalugba 5), Navy 40 (J. Lewis 9). Assists-Bucknell 9 (Blankenship 4), Navy 8 (Jeanpierre 4). Total fouls-Bucknell 22, Navy 19. A-2,114.

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