Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Navy fell into a basketball trap Wednesday night. The Midshipmen visited an Army base and were shot full of holes in the second half as American University rallied for a 73-66 victory.
The Eagles, three behind at intermission, scored the first 10 points of the second half at Fort Myer. They disrupted the Navy offense with a successful zone trap, forcing seven turnovers in the Mids' first nine possessions. At the other end, they employed their "tease to score" version of the delay offense to work inside for easy jump shots.
Once in front, American forced the Mids to take chances on defense. Driving down the middle almost at will, the Eagles made 17 of 23 shots in the second half for 74 percent efficiency.
Stan Lamb, the sophomore who had been shooting at a 44 percent clip through 21 games, continued his remarkable turnabout by hitting 12 of 16 shots for a game-high 28 points. In two games, he was downed 25 of 32 for 78 percent.
Lamb also did a fine job as the point man in the Eagles' zone trap. He had been criticized for his defensive play recently, but there was no criticism forthcoming Wednesday night.
"Stan is a very good scorer," said AU Coach Jimmy Lynam, "and now he's getting his kind of shot. And working on the point tonight, he took a very active role. He did an excellent job."
The result was far different from the 60-45 success Navy enjoyed over AU at Capital Centre on the first weekend of the season. But, as Lynam noted of his 14-10 club, "We've improved our play a great deal since then. And that wasn't really a 15-point game. It was tied with 4:50 to go and they padded it with a lot of free throws down the stretch."
American was doing the padding last night, Lamb and Mark Garlitos converting eight straight free throws in the last 73 seconds.
The game was amazingly close in the first half, as neither team led by more than two points until Navy boosted its margin to 28-24. The Mids, who stayed close while missing seven of their first eight shots, were unable to pull away as they hit 15 of their next 20.
After intermission, American made 10 ot its first 13 shots for a 49-36 margin that just about decided the outcome. Navy, meanwhile, was two for five, rarely coming close enough to shoot. The Mids were called for stepping out of bounds, a backcourt violation and three seconds, besides unwise passes under pressure.
"They're very deliberate and they use a lot of passes against the zone," Lynam said. "If you trap more, the defense is dictating where they pass it. We were trying to get a little pressure on the wings, but we weren't as aggressive for some reason in the first half."
On offense, with Garlitos quarterbacking and Boo Bowers and Lamb working their way inside, AU was unstoppable.
"We were just mentally flat coming out for the second half," said Coach Bob Hamilton, whose Mids fell to 13-10. "We attacked their zone pretty well in the first half, but we didn't handle the ball aggressively or crisply in the second half. We got out of the game and never got the opportunity to play for it.
"We had difficulty guarding Garlitos, Bowers and Lamb. They're good basketball players. Give American credit.Once they got the lead, they played with a lot of confidence and a lot of poise."