Navy earns sixth seed with win

Mids top Lafayette, 76-57, improve tourney position

College Basketball

February 24, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

In a game Navy sorely needed to improve its positioning for the Patriot League tournament, the Midshipmen wasted no time seizing the initiative last night.

They bolted ahead early behind the hot shooting of senior captain Taj Mathews, withstood Lafayette's best run, then pulled away for a 76-57 victory that sealed the tournament's sixth seed and guaranteed they will not have to play a quarterfinal against Bucknell on its home court.

Navy (9-17, 5-8) made the final home game of Mathews (24 points, four assists, three steals), George O'Garro (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Laramie Mergerson (eight points, seven rebounds) a record-tying one.

The team equaled the school record with 71 rebounds and tied another by outrebounding the Leopards by 38. Navy constantly played volleyball on the offensive glass, capturing what is believed to be another record (36 offensive rebounds), although no statistics are maintained in that category.

"We have more offensive rebounds than field goals," said Navy coach Billy Lange. "But 84 shots and 76 points? I'm just happy our guys were relentless. The key to the game was to dominate the paint."

Inspired by the presence of his Washington-state based parents at his last Alumni Hall appearance, Mathews meshed four three-pointers in the first five minutes as Navy soared ahead 16-6. Lafayette (8-18, 4-9) fought back to claim a 26-24 lead before the Midshipmen unleashed an unanswered 11-point run and never trailed again.

"At the half, we decided it was time to take a stand and take away the glass," Mathews said.

Lafayette hung in contention but couldn't match Navy's athleticism and determination and, as the seventh seed, will have to open the tournament against host and No. 2 Bucknell.

"That's not something you want, going against the best seed at home," said Leopards coach Fran O'Hanlon, whose team is 2-12 on the road. "But we didn't shoot well, and we're not going to get many rebounds when we don't, certainly not against a team as athletic as Navy."

Freshman Bilal Abdullah paced Lafayette with 14 points, and Marcus Harley added 10 but went scoreless after the break while being guarded by Mathews.

LAFAYETTE - Douglas 4-7 1-2 9, Hughes 0-1 1-2 1, P. Betley 0-0 0-0 0, Harley 4-12 0-0 10, Hilliard 0-1 6-8 6, Capusan 2-3 3-4 7, Cummins 2-9 0-0 5, Abdullah 4-6 3-4 14, Kenny 0-0 0-0 0, M. Betley 0-4 1-2 1, Knitter 1-8 0-0 2, Detmer 1-3 0-1 2. Totals 18-54 15-23 57. NAVY - O'Garro 4-10 2-4 10, Mergerson 4-9 0-0 8, Johnson 1-8 3-4 5, Mathews 7-16 4-5 24, Sprink 2-9 1-3 5, Hooper 5-15 0-0 12, Green 1-1 0-0 2, Baldwin 1-5 1-2 3, Rhoiney 0-0 0-0 0, Fannin 3-11 1-1 7. Totals 28-84 12-19 76. Halftime-Navy, 38-34. 3-point goals-Lafayette 6-29 (Harley 2-7, Cummins 1-7, Abdullah 3-5, Betley 0-4, Knitter 0-2, Detmer 0-2, Hughe 0-1, Hilliard 0-1), Navy 8-25 (Mathews 6-10, Hooper 2-8, Sprink 0-4, Johnson 0-3). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Lafayette 33 (Detmer 7), Navy 71 (Fannin 14). Assists-Lafayette 9 (Knitter, Detmer 2), Navy 17 (Mathews 4). Total fouls-Lafayette 20, Navy 19. A-1,380.

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