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Navy, with 2 starters out, loses to Lehigh, 106-86 Lack of inside game hurts Midshipmen


ANNAPOLIS -- Navy gave a classic demonstration last night of how the loss of an inside game can devastate a team.

Chuck Robinson, a 6-foot-5 junior and Navy's third-leading rebounder, spent the night on the bench with a hip pointer, suffered two days ago in practice.

Nick Marusich, a 6-9 senior and the team's No. 1 rebounder, spent all but the first three minutes on the bench with an injured shoulder. He hurt it in practice, then aggravated it in the opening minutes and told coach Pete Herrmann he "couldn't go."

The result was that Navy lost to Lehigh, 106-86, in a Patriot League game before 1,207 at Alumni Hall.

It was the first time this season Navy surrendered 100 points and the first time Lehigh scored 100.

Freshman Mark Majick paced Navy with 20 points, followed by another freshman, Derrick Wall, with 17. Dozie Mbonu poured in 28 for Lehigh.

The Mids held a 58-56 halftime lead, despite the absence of Robinson and Marusich. But Lehigh went on an 11-2 run to start the second half and was never headed. Majick, who scored 18 first-half points on 6-for-7 shooting from three-point range, disappeared in the second half and scored two more points.

"That was the best half I've seen us play in a long while," said Lehigh coach Dave Duke. "With Navy shooting all those three-pointers in the first half, we just wanted to stay close; we've had so many bad first halves. In the second, we were intense and smart, and rebounded well."

It was Lehigh's second road win in 10 games. Only once before, against Harvard, had the Engineers trailed at halftime and come back to win.

Navy shot 45 percent from the field. John Haase, who averaged 22.3 points in the previous three games, had 12 points on 3-for-13 shooting.

After making 10 three-pointers in the first half, Navy was 0-for-8 in the second. One freshman, Wall, compensated in part by scoring 15 of his 17 in the second half.

"Not having the big guys [Robinson and Marusich] hurt," Herrmann said. "Our other players are so young. I think Lehigh felt after we hit all those three-pointers in the first half that if anyone was going to beat them, it would have to be our young guys inside. They didn't want it to be guys shooting from the perimeter."

Haase acted as if it was going to be one-man show when he scored the game's first seven points. Lehigh quickly came back, its job made even easier when Marusich left after picking up his second foul and re-injuring his shoulder.

Navy was forced to rely on underclassmen.

For the remainder of the half, the Mids usually had three freshmen on the floor, and at one point had four -- Larry Green, Kevin Kozak, Wes Cooper and Majick -- along with Haase, a junior.

The wonder of it was that Navy led by two at halftime, despite a three-pointer at the buzzer by Lehigh's Stephen Yaniga.

Next for Navy is a visit to Army Saturday.

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