Navy can't recover from early hit, 88-71

20-point deficit starts Mids' loss to Belmont

College Basketball

November 25, 2003|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Navy opened its home basketball season last night by digging a hole. The Midshipmen then spent the rest of the night trying to dig their way out of it.

After giving up 20 straight points in the opening minutes, Navy rallied, but never could regain the lead in an 88-71 loss to Belmont before 1,319 at Alumni Hall.

"I don't think I've had a team fall behind by such a large margin that early, anytime," said Don DeVoe, in his 31st year as a head coach. The loss was the first for the Mids in a home opener in three years, dropping the team to 0-2.

Belmont (1-1) gained control early. After surrendering the game's first two points, the Bruins scored 20 straight over the next six minutes, punctuated by three three-pointers from guard Steve Drabyn (22 points).

"I think we came out flat," said Navy forward Matt Fannin. "We were ready during warm-ups. ... There was no excuse to come out flat. It was our home opener."

Drabyn, who last season led the nation in free-throw percentage, didn't miss a shot in the half, hitting all four of his field-goal attempts and seven free throws.

"We shot it well," said Belmont coach Rick Byrd, whose team shot 50 percent for the game, including 12 of 23 threes. "But part of that was because they were taking some chances. When you do that you're going to leave some people open."

With a 20-2 deficit, Navy flipped the switch on its offense. Kwame Ofori's three-pointer broke a scoreless streak of 6:10 and sparked the Mids to a 14-0 run that pulled them within four midway through the half. Ofori had three threes during his team's run.

After missing seven of its first eight shots, Navy shot 70 percent the rest of the half, pulling even on two occasions.

In the second half, however, the Bruins again took command, capitalizing on several short-range baskets by forward Adam Mark (22 points), combined with Navy's cold shooting, to increase their lead to as many as 17 points.

Entering this season without his top six scorers from a year ago, DeVoe wasn't quite sure what to expect of his inexperienced team. Despite their problems last night, the Mids nearly doubled their output from their opening loss to South Carolina.

BELMONT-Sonn 1-3 0-0 2, Mark 8-18 6-8 22, Goodwin 6-8 0-0 16, Collins 3-7 1-3 8, Drabyn 4-6 11-11 22, Snyder 3-4 2-4 11, Caterson 0-0 0-0 0, Oliver 0-1 0-0 0, Otis 1-4 1-3, 3, Preston 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 28-56 20-26 88. NAVY-Green 2-4 1-2 5, Fannin 5-9 3-6 13, Baldwin 1-4 1-2 3, Hooper 5-13 2-2 14, Charles 2-4 3-4 7, Ofori 5-7 0-0 14, Mathews 2-6 0-0 5, Higgins 1-2 0-1 2, Allegro 0-1 0-0 0, Mergerson 3-7 1-3 7. Totals 26-57 11-20 71. Halftime-Belmont 48, Navy 40. 3-point goals-Belmont 12-23 (Sonn 0-2, Goodwin 4-5, Collins 1-3, Drabyn 3-5, Snyder 3-4, Oliver 0-1, Otis 1-3). Navy 8-19 (Hooper 2-7, Ofori 4-6, Mathews 1-4, Higgins 1-1, Allegro 0-1). Fouled out-Mathews (Navy). Rebounds-Belmont 35 (Mark 8), Navy 33 (Fannin 6). Assists- Belmont 21 (Drabyn 6), Navy 17 (Mathews 8). Total fouls-Belmont 21, Navy 22. A-1,319.

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