High-spirited Navy flies past Army, 79-61

Mids suddenly tough on defense, boards in rout of Black Knights

College Basketball

January 27, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Army dominated Navy on the football field last month, but yesterday the Midshipmen responded on the basketball court.

With 4,340 spectators - the largest Alumni Hall gathering of the season - on hand and the worldwide Armed Forces Television network broadcasting the game, Navy romped to a 79-61 victory over one of the Patriot League's surprising teams.

It was Navy's 13th straight victory over the Black Knights, who have not prevailed in the series since the league tournament in March 1996.

Trends suggested the streak might finally end. Navy was coming off its poorest defensive effort of the season at home in a 92-79 loss to Lafayette, and Army had beaten the Leopards and preseason favorite Holy Cross in succession.

So much for trends.

Navy (9-12, 4-2) soared in front by as many as 21 points in the first half with overwhelming rebounding and defense. Army's Chris Spatola, the conference's top scorer, was held without a point through the first 23 1/2 minutes.

Early in the second half, the Midshipmen were up by their largest margin (53-27) after eight straight points by Jason Jeanpierre (game-high 19), and they coasted home.

"We became a good rebounding team today," said Navy coach Don DeVoe. "It was a flash from the past. We got a lot of extra shots and prevented them from getting any to speak of. The early run set the tone for the game."

Said center Mitch Moore: "Coach told us we needed to come out with the intensity necessary to jump on them and take the initiative. As soon as we got the tip, it set the tone. We knew we had a height advantage and we wanted to make use of it."

So thoroughly commanding was the Navy board game that Army had a 28-5 first-half rebounding deficit and the Midshipmen had a 17-0 edge in second-chance points.

Jehiel Lewis, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, grabbed 16 rebounds to lead Navy to a 22-rebound edge in the final accounting.

By the time Spatola finally scored his first basket with 16:19 remaining in the game, the Midshipmen had clinched their eighth home win.

That drought was largely attributable to Demond Shepard, who said he was "surprised he [Spatola] didn't have any points at halftime. I really wanted to be denying him and not let him control the ball.

"My teammates gave me a lot of help not letting him run off all the screens and make all the cuts."

The loss left Army coach Pat Harris 0-11 against Navy and the Black Knights (9-10, 3-3) winless in three conference games on the road.

"I think they came out knowing they had to prove something before the home crowd," Harris said of Navy. "They played with unbelievable emotion and there probably wasn't much said in their practice before this game."

ARMY-Collins 1-1 0-0 2, Harrell 3-9 0-0 6, Woodruff 4-11 2-3 10, J.P.Spatola 3-5 6-6 14, C.Spatola 5-12 1-2 13, Wallace 1-3 2-4 4, Quinn 0-0 0-0 0, Payton 1-3 2-2 4, Smith 0-2 0-0 0, Crockett 0-1 0-0 0, Mohr 1-2 0-1 2, Wilson 0-2 4-4 4, Doleac 0-0 0-0 0, Pearson 0-1 0-0 0, Rutledge 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 20-53 17-22 61. NAVY-J.Lewis 4-9 1-2 9, Ebong 3-11 6-10 12, Moore 4-5 1-2 9, Jeanpierre 6-15 4-4 19, Shepard 5-7 5-6 16, Fernandez 0-0 0-0 0, McCreary 0-0 0-0 0, Charles 2-3 1-2 6, Long 3-10 2-2 8, Nero 0-0 0-0 0, Barker 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-61 20-28 79.

Halftime-Navy 41-23. 3-point Goals-Army 4-11 (J.P. Spatola 2-3, C. Spatola 2-3, Payton 0-1, Crockett 0-1, Wilson 0-1, Smith 0-2), Navy 5-14 (Jeanpierre 3-8, Charles 1-1, Shepard 1-2, J.Lewis 0-1, Long 0-1, Barker 0-1). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Army 25 (Wallace 7), Navy 47 (J. Lewis 16). Assists-Army 9 (C. Spatola 3), Navy 14 (J. Lewis, Ebong 3). Total fouls-Army 22, Navy 18. A-4,340.

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