Navy stole a game from Dartmouth at Alumni Hall last night. The Midshipmen (7-2) used their quick hands and defensive instincts to create 15 steals in a deceptively easy 85-68 victory over the Big Green.
Team captain Skip Victor was the principal pickpocket, with five steals to go with his team-high 18 points, plus seven rebounds and five assists.
Dartmouth (4-5), which lost by 14 points to North Carolina on Saturday, made it close in the first half, trailing 38-35, thanks mainly to 14 blown layups by the Mids, who made only 16 of 40 field goal attempts.
In fact, the Big Green rallied from an early, 17-6 deficit to take a 35-34 lead with 54 seconds left in the half. But Victor quickly changed the momentum by converting a pair of steals into baskets to give Navy a 38-35 lead at the break.
Navy, relying on its superior depth and quickness, took command early in the second half. A 12-4 run, ignited by three-pointers by Chris Williams (16 points) and Victor boosted the margin to 50-39.
Dartmouth made a final push, closing to 51-43 on a short jumper by Shaun Gee (22 points) with 15.50 remaining, but Navy answered with a 17-3 burst to put the game away.
Navy coach Don DeVoe admitted he helped Dartmouth keep it close early by turning to his bench too quickly. Leading 17-6, he pulled all his starters, hoping to ultimately wear down the visitors.
"That group I had in there was young and lacked leadership. Things kind of got out of control," DeVoe said.
All that changed in the second half when Navy consistently beat its rivals down the floor and also dominated the boards. The Mids finished with a 46-35 rebounding edge, with a decisive 18-6 advantage on the offensive boards.
It was a dramatic reversal by the Mids, who absorbed an 88-70 pasting by 19th-ranked Auburn here on Saturday.
"In practice, Coach DeVoe stressed for us to use our athleticism against Dartmouth the same way Auburn used it against us," said Victor. "By playing 10 or more guys, we knew we could outrun them and wear them down."
DeVoe also praised his defense for restricting the three-point attempts by Dartmouth.
"Normally, they average 22 threes a game," DeVoe said. "Tonight, they managed only 14 and made three, and two of them were by their sub, Brian Laibow, in the last minute."
Next up for Navy is a visit to UMBC to play the streaking Retrievers tomorrow night.
Pub Date: 12/22/98