Emmitt Davis served 12 years as an assistant to Navy coach Don DeVoe and learned his lessons all too well.
Now the new head coach at Colgate, Davis was giving DeVoe heart palpitations in their first encounter in Annapolis last night. His youthful Red Raiders led Navy by four points with 1: 49 remaining.
But as the Midshipmen have done so often this season, they found a way to win. A steal and a layup by team captain Skip Victor with 14 seconds left gave Navy an emotion-packed 56-54 victory.
But the Mids still had to survive a pair of three-point attempts by senior guard Mike Tilley in the last eight seconds to maintain their share of the Patriot League lead with Lafayette, which beat Bucknell at the buzzer last night.
"Those last eight seconds felt like a minute," said Victor, who leads the league in steals (2.74).
Asked about his game-winning theft of a Jordan Harris pass, he said: "They were running that same play all night. I kind of felt they'd do it again. I deflected the pass and was fortunate to beat [Chester] Felts to the ball."
Without their aggressive defense in the second half, the Mids (16-4, 5-1) would have had no chance of avoiding their second conference loss. Colgate (10-10, 4-2) scored only six points in the final 9: 38.
"We had to overcome some horrendous shooting [22-for-65]," said DeVoe, "My guys just had to hang in there. That's why this was an incredible win for us."
They certainly did it the hard way. Victor ignited the game-winning rally by hitting a jump shot to close to 54-52 with 1: 25 remaining. Sophomore forward Chris Williams followed with a steal and converted two free throws to forge a 54-54 tie with 61 seconds left.
Another steal by Chris Williams (14 points, 10 rebounds) off Felts gave Navy a chance to go ahead with 26 seconds left, but center Josh Williams lost his dribble while trying a post-up move.
After a series of timeouts by both teams, Colgate inbounded the ball with 22 seconds left, but could not avoid Victor's move.
It was a heart-breaking loss for Davis, who admitted feeling disoriented sitting on the visitors' bench in Alumni Hall.
"I really wasn't looking forward to playing this game," he said. "I love a lot of kids on the Navy team. I wish we weren't playing in the same league. I wasn't surprised by Victor's play at the end. He's an All-League player and a great team leader."
Because of Davis' long association with DeVoe, this almost became a game of mirror images.
As Victor said: "They've got a similar offensive style. It's like playing against our own defense and makes it difficult to score."
But Davis found ways to improvise, running a number of effective backdoor plays for Harris and capitalizing on the all-around skills of precocious freshman forward Pat Campolieta, who produced his first double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
But Campolieta, who made only seven of 21 shots, was held without a point in the last 11 minutes. Davis tried to run several isolation plays, looking for Campolieta to beat Josh Williams off the dribble, but there was always another Mid to block his path to the basket.
In the end, it came down to two crucial shots by Tilley with a chance to pull an upset. The first one was hardly contested and rimmed the basket. He hustled for his own rebound, but his hurried final shot bounced high off the board.
"The kid feels terrible right now," said Davis, "but he's our best three-point shooter and usually makes those shots. It was tough, real tough."
COLGATE -- Harris 3-5 0-0 6, Campolieta 7-21 2-3 16, Diamond 2-5 0-0 4, Felts 3-6 2 -2 8, Tilley 2-8 0-0 4, Tuohey 0-0 0-0 0, Cabrera 1-1 1-2 4, Datcher 2-5 0-0 4, Wandtke 2-4 0-0 6, Akers 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 23-57 5-7 54.
NAVY -- C.Williams 5-10 3-5 14, Savane 4-13 4-4 12, Josh Williams 2-6 1-5 5, Skipworth 1-8 2-2 4, Victor 6-18 0-2 13, John Williams 1-3 0-0 2, Reeder 2-3 0-0 4, Worthing 0-2 0-0 0, Hill 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 22-65 10-18 56.
Halftime--29-29. 3-point goals--Colgate 3-9 (Wandtke 2-3, Cabrera 1-1, Datcher 0-2, Tilley 0-3), Navy 2-6 (C. Williams 1-1, Victor 1-2, Skipworth 0-2, Worthing 0-1). Fouled out -- none. Rebounds--Colgate 39 (Campolieta 11), Navy 44 (C. Williams 10). Assists-- Colgate 14 (Tilley 7), Navy 12 (Victor, Skipworth 3). Total fouls -- Colgate 17, Navy 15. A--2,327.
Pub Date: 1/28/99