Navy routs Army, makes a memory; Mids swamp Cadets, 81-46, for largest victory margin in series' 79-year history


Navy basketball coach Don DeVoe prepared the perfect pre-game speech yesterday to snap his team out of the shooting doldrums that hurt the Midshipmen in successive road losses at Bucknell and Lafayette.

"I told my players that one day when they come back to Annapolis for their 35th class reunion, the first thing people will ask is, 'How did you guys do against Army?' "

Very well, thank you. The Mids (17-6, 6-3) drubbed the Cadets with yesterday's 81-46 rout before a sellout crowd of 5,293 at Alumni Hall, the biggest margin of victory in the 89-game series dating to 1920.

Navy has won 17 of the past 20 games against its archrival, including both this season.

All that ailed the Mids' offense last week was remedied by the appearance of the Cadets, who had entered this Patriot League contest with a modest four-game winning streak.

Spurred by junior forward Sitapha Savane's 14 points, Navy gained a 36-22 halftime advantage.

Army senior guard George Tatum (17 points) scored the first five points of the second half to narrow the margin to 36-27, but the Cadets (8-15, 4-5), held to a season-low 25 percent shooting (15-for-61), did not score for the next seven minutes and found themselves down 49-27.

This was as much a result of the Mids' swarming man-to-man defense as the Cadets' inept shooting.

Navy was credited with 15 blocks, tying a school record set in 1986 by a team led by David Robinson, who rejected 14 in a game against North Carolina-Wilmington.

Senior captain Skip Victor, with six steals, tied the season mark of 68 set by Erik Harris in 1990-91, as Army experienced consistent problems trying to run its motion offense. All told, the Mids had 17 steals.

"They've always been a good defensive team," said Army coach Pat Harris. "It's no fluke they're second in the nation in rebounding advantage. We didn't value the basketball. We tried to establish the inside game, but they were too big and strong, especially on the offensive boards. It was like trying to repair a sinking ship."

Said DeVoe, "We were getting our hands on a lot of their shots and doing an excellent job of cutting off their passing lanes."

But it wasn't all defense. Navy, which had fallen from first to third place in the Patriot League with the successive losses, ended its shooting woes by converting 51 percent (32-for-63) of its field-goal attempts.

Savane contributed a game-high 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting to go with his 10 rebounds and three blocks, and aggressive sophomore forward Robert Reeder came off the bench to score a career-high 14.

Savane, who had suffered a personal shooting slump, got a big emotional lift from the presence of his father in the stands.

"This was the first time he's seen me play for the varsity here," said Savane, a native of Senegal, where his father, Landing, once ran for president. "I knew if I didn't have a good game today, I'd be hearing about it for a long time."

Navy next will play the league's two bottom-feeding teams -- Holy Cross and Lehigh -- before closing the regular season on the road against Colgate on Feb. 20.

ARMY -- Woodruff 0-1 1-2 1, Tatum 6-21 5-7 17, Barrett 2-8 3-4 7, Kwasniak 1-6 0 -0 2, Spatola 3-5 3-4 10, Uptgraft 0-2 0-0 0, Horn 0-1 0-0 0, Dempsey 0-0 0-0 0, Crawford 0-2 0-0 0, Quinn 1-5 0-2 2, Dunaway 0-1 0-0 0, Harrell 0-2 3-4 3, Rutledge 2-7 0-0 4. Totals 15-61 15-23 46.

NAVY -- C. Williams 5-12 0-0 12, Savane 7-9 4-4 18, Josh Williams 3-5 2-7 8, Skipworth 1-2 0-0 2, Victor 1-7 2-2 4, John Williams 1-3 0-0 2, Reeder 6-8 2-3 14, Worthing 0-2 0-0 0, Hill 2-5 1-3 5, Cunningham 0-0 1-2 1, Shepard 1-3 0-0 2, Lewis 4-5 3-4 11, Nero 0-0 0-0 0, Murray 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 32-63 15-25 81.

Halftime--Navy, 36-22. 3-point goals--Army 1-10 (Spatola 1-3, Kwasniak 0-2, Quinn 0-2, Tatum 0-1, Crawford 0-1, Uptgraft 0-1), Navy 2-8 (C. Williams 2-6, Victor 0-1, Worthing 0-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Army 39 (Tatum 9), Navy 47 (Savane 10). Assists--Army 8 (Kwasniak 4), Navy 20 (Victor, Skipworth 5). Technical fouls--Dempsey, Shepard. Total fouls--Army 24, Navy 19. A--5,293.

Pub Date: 2/08/99

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