ANNAPOLIS — ANNAPOLIS -- In one afternoon in the biggest game of the season, it all came together for the Navy basketball team before a crowd of 4,358 at Halsey Field House yesterday.
The running Midshipmen (7-20) dominated Army (5-21) from the start on the way to a 99-78 victory.
Coach Pete Herrmann is 4-1 against Army in five years, but is 18-65 overall the past three seasons.
However, in fairness to Herrmann, numerous injuries and transfers have led to the decline of the Midshipmen since the departure of David Robinson after Herrmann's first season as head coach.
Navy not only played with emotion for Herrmann yesterday but for seniors Erik Harris, Eddie Reddick and Mel Davis, who were playing their final game at Halsey.
The Midshipmen broke three team records in the Army-Navy series, including most points (99) in a game, most free throws made (34) and most steals (10).
The combined points (177) were also a record in the 69 Army-Navy meetings. Navy leads the series, 37-32.
Harris dazed the Cadets with 31 points, five assists and four rebounds in one of his finest all-around efforts in four years.
Harris said Herrmann's future at Navy was on the minds of the players a lot.
"Coach [Herrmann] has stuck with us through thick and thin my four years here, and it was important for us to stick with him," said Harris. "I think we've proven we can beat anybody, but we lose our concentration for five minutes during a game and it hurts us a lot."
Herrmann, who patted his three seniors on the head as the final seconds ticked off, said the show of emotion had more to do with beating Army convincingly than anything concerning his job.
"I haven't been thinking about it [chances of being fired]," Herrmann said. "I was worried more about preparing for Army and now getting ready for the CAA tournament."
Harris said the victory will send the Midshipmen into Saturday's opening round of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament on a high. Navy will meet top-seeded James Madison at noon at the Richmond (Va.) Coliseum.
"Maybe we can surprise James Madison," said Harris. "Hopefully, Steve [Hood] will miss some three-pointers and he and Fess Irvin will have an off-game for a change. We lost by only one to them at home [81-80 Jan. 23]."
Harris led Navy with 19 points in that game.
Harris had a lot of help yesterday from Sam Cook (17 points, three steals), Reddick (15 points, nine rebounds) and Davis (13 points, five assists).
Navy shot 60.7 percent from the field in the first half to surge to a 44-25 lead and led by as many as 25 twice (53-28 and 57-32) in the second half.
Herrmann said he knew it was a good day when assistant coach Barry Parkhill told him the Midshipmen were shooting 60 percent at halftime.
"I said 6-0, we haven't seen that since the Mount [St. Mary's] game," Herrmann said. Navy won, 116-98, over the Mount in the second game of the season.