Mids start flat, fail to catch up

Holy Cross 81 Navy 67

February 02, 2006|By KENT BAKER | KENT BAKER,SUN REPORTER

Holy Cross threw a tight clamp around Navy's perimeter offense for 20 minutes last night, then cruised to an 81-67 Patriot League victory at Alumni Hall.

It was the 13th straight victory for the Crusaders over Navy overall and the sixth in a row in Annapolis.

Navy (8-12, 1-6) was never in contention last night, falling behind 9-0, then 15-4 and trailing by 23 points with a minute remaining in the first half. Despite a 52-point second half, the Midshipmen could not make a game of it against one of the Patriot's premier teams.

"We can't afford to start a game not sharp and that's what we did," said Navy coach Billy Lange. "The margin for error is minimal against a great program and great coach and you can't make mistakes when you start coming back."

As is their wont, the Midshipmen never quit, but they couldn't get closer than they were at the finish against a bigger, more athletic opponent.

Holy Cross (12-10, 5-2) restricted Navy to five first-half field goals and none from three-point range, an area where the Midshipmen rank as the second most accurate team in the league. The Crusaders' guards pushed up against Navy's major outside threats, forcing them to pass up shots or take them from awkward positions.

"We came off a disappointing effort on defense against Lehigh and coach [Ralph Willard] really got on us," said All-Patriot guard Kevin Hamilton, who led his team with 26 points and also contributed seven rebounds and three steals. "They have a lot of capable guards and we did a good job of minimizing the amount of open looks they got."

All five Holy Cross starters reached double figures and the Crusaders finished with a 14-rebound advantage against a squad that leads the Patriot League in rebound margin.

"This was a real good bounce-back game," said Willard, whose team blew a big lead and lost by one at Lehigh in its previous start. "The kids responded and had great focus. We haven't been a great defensive team because of a lack of depth, but our guys did a great job of communicating in the first half."

Navy has not beaten Holy Cross since Feb. 19, 2000. Its leading scorers, Greg Sprink and plebe Kaleo Kina, each finished with 19 points.

"We need to grow a little bit physically," Lange said. "It's going to take a little bit of time. We're still searching for chemistry."

kent.baker@baltsun.com

HOLY CROSS-Simmons 5-7 3-3 14, Vander Baan 3-5 4-5 10, Clifford 5-8 2-4 12, Thomas 4-10 3-4 13, Hamilton 9-18 4-7 26, Dixon 2-2 2-2 6, Cruze 0-0 0-0 0, Cunningham 0-0 0-0 0, Hyland 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 28-51 18-27 81. NAVY-Baldwin 0-0 0-0 0, Teague 0-2 0-0 0, Sprink 7-18 3-4 19, Johnson 0-2 1-2 1, Kina 4-9 10-13 19, Reed 3-4 2-2 8, Colbert 0-3 0-0 0, Hooper 0-1 1-2 1, Green 1-3 0-0 2, Brigham 3-4 0-0 7, White 0-0 0-0 0, Fannin 3-8 4-4 10, Biles 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-54 21-27 67. Half: Holy Cross, 35-15. 3-point goals: HC 7-14 (Hamilton 4-7, Thomas 2-4, Simmons 1-2, Vander Baan 0-1); N 4-16 (Sprink 2-8, Brigham 1-2, Kina 1-4, Johnson 0-1, Teague 0-1). Rebounds: HC 38 (Thomas 8); N 24 (Fannin, Green 5). Assists: HC 20 (Thomas 10); N 14 (Johnson, Sprink 4). Total fouls: HC 23, N 23. A: 1,524.

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