A combination of full-court pressure by American University and poor free thrwo shooting by Navy combined to give the Eagles a 79-64 victory over Navy last night at Fort Myer Gym in a contest highlighted by Boo Bowers' rewrite of the American record book.
Bowers, although neutralized much of the night by a sore ankle and special attention from Navy's defense, made six field goals to bring his career total to 686, one more than 1960 graduate Wil Jones, now coach at the University of the District of Columbia.
Bowers finished the contest with a team-high 16 points, his low for the season, to become only the second Eagle to contribute 600 points in a season.
American, now 12-11 and 7-2 at home, took control early, pressing full court from the opening tipoff and running the slower Midshipmen at every opportunity. Navy committed 10 first-half turnovers, playing into the Eagles' hands.
"We showed up ready to play," explained Eagle Coach Gary Williams, recalling a 69-68 loss to Navy in the first week of December. "We wanted to get an early lead. The press worked well. Some nights it's good, some nights it's bad. Tonight it was good."
It was at least good enough to totally frustrate a Navy squad playing without point guard Bruce Grooms, a three-year starter, out with an ankle injury.
The Eagles rode two big spurts to a 44-24 halftime margin.They surged from a 14-9 lead to a 26-9 margin early on and then moved from 30-21 to 44-21 late in the period. Navy (9-11) hit only six of 13 free throws in the half, missing the first half of one-and-one situation on six occasions.
American took advantage of Navy's preoccupation with Bowers to spread the scoring load, hitting open man as the Midshipmen sagged on Bowers in the low post. Point guard Robin Hoey tallied 12 points and added four assists in only 19 minutes of playing time.
On the occasions when Navy's guards successfully crossed midcourt agaist the American press they looked inside for 6-7, 220-pound junior center John Geshay, who responded with a career-high 28 points, the most scored by a Navy player this season.
Geshay was the whole show for Navy in the first half, scoring 18 of his team's 24 points, including its last 13 before intermission. He also gathered in 10 rebounds.
While Bowers' record-setting exploits were eye-grabbing, it was the team defense of American that locked up the victory. American finished with 14 steals. Navy committed 18 turnovers and shot less than 38 percent from the field.