Navy slips, falls for 11th straight time, 54-52

Ahead by 6 in second half, Mids fold, lose to Bucknell

College Basketball

February 15, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

These are not the best of times for the Navy men's basketball team, and for a multitude of reasons, nothing comes easy.

But for a few fleeting moments yesterday at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, the Midshipmen pushed all that aside.

On the backs of two sophomore reserves, Navy grabbed six-point, second-half lead over Bucknell, a team that had thrashed the Mids by 41 points in their previous meeting.

But Navy's next four possessions - turnover, turnover, miss, turnover - spelled doom for a team that has struggled to score points. Bucknell regained the lead and didn't give it back, holding on for a 54-52 victory.

Guard Kevin Bettencourt had 17 points for the Bison (11-12, 7-3 Patriot League), who have won eight of their past nine games.

It was the 11th straight loss for the Mids, who have not won a conference game (0-10) and are now 3-20 on the year.

"When you're struggling like we are, you almost end up finding a way to lose," said Navy coach Don DeVoe. "Losing begats losing, and we're fighting that right now. We hung tough, and two guys stepped up, but in the end, we just couldn't handle their pressure."

Sophomores Mike Higgins (14 points) and Chika Onyekanne (12 points) gave Navy inspired play off the bench, and a three-point play by each player helped the Mids grab a 44-38 lead with 6:46 to play.

But the Mids' two senior point guards - Jason Fernandez and Kwame Ofori - struggled down the stretch, and Bucknell took advantage with a 10-0 run that was fueled by two uncontested layups by Abe Badmus. Thirteen times in the second half, Navy had a possession where it never got off a shot, and Bucknell finished with 15 steals.

"When we were up six, we were pretty hyped up," Higgins said. "But it seems like right now when we make mistakes, we just start making more."

Navy pulled back to within a point a 50-49 on a three-pointer by Onyekanna with 2:02 to play, but Bettencourt answered with a three-pointer on the other end, deflating the Mids' rally.

"That was a big shot," said Bucknell coach Pat Flannery. "It was a backbreaker for them, and it gave us some energy."

BUCKNELL-Clark 3-7 2-4 8, McNaughton 3-4 2-2 8, Lee 3-12 3-7 9, Badmus 3-4 1-2 7, Bettencourt 5-14 4-10 17, Skornik 1-3 1-2 3, Brown 1-3 0-0 2, Glover 0-1 0-0 0, Niesz 0-0 0-0 0, Viaer-McClymont 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-48 12-20 54. NAVY-Charles 1-2 0-0 2, Onyekanne 5-9 1-1 12, Fannin 1-7 0-0 2, Fernandez 2-9 2-2 6, Ofori 1-4 1-2 3, Hooper 0-2 0-0 0, Boatner 0-0 0-0 0, Mathews 1-1 1-1 4, O'Garro 1-2 2-2 4, Higgins 6-7 2-2 14, Baldwin 1-2 0-0 2, Paul 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-45 9-10 52. Halftime- Bucknell 26, Navy 26. 3-point goals-Bucknell 4-17 (Bettencourt 4-10, Lee 0-4, Clark 0-2, Brown 0-1) Navy 5-12 (Onyekanne 1-1, Fernandez 2-6, Ofori 1-2, Hooper 0-1, Mathews 1-1, Higgins 0-1). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Bucknell 31(Lee 10), Navy 29(Fannin 7). Assists-Bucknell 12(Lee 5), Navy 13(Ofori 4). Total fouls-Bucknell 15, Navy 18. A-1,853.

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