Navy is just a victory away from a berth in the NCAA basketball tournament, but it wouldn't be right to say the Midshipmen can taste it.

"We'll have to play better than we have all year to beat Old Dominion," said Navy Coach Bob Hamilton of the only obstacle remaining in Navy's path. A win over ODU Saturday in the ECAC South Championship game would land Navy among the 48 teams in the NCAA party, which begins next Thursday.

The Midshipmen earned the right to play for the ECAC South title by whipping St. Francis, Pa., 75-62, in the conference semifinals here tonight. w

The last time Navy was in the NCAA tournament was in 1960. ODU scored a 58-44 triumph over the Mids in Norfolk last month.

Old Dominion (24-4) was a 75-59 victor over William and Mary in the opening semifinal game last night. The Monarchs, who were led by Ronnie Valentine's 18 points are considered a good bet to make the NCAA tournament field win or lose against Navy Saturday.

Navy's Chuck Greene, with seven points, keyed the pivotal surge by the mids that saw them go from a point down with 5:04 left before intermission to 14 points up with 16:51 left in the game. St. Francis, which closed out its season at 12-16, never got closer than six.

Dave Brooks and Greene paced the Midshipmen with 15 points each and Richard Davidson added 10. Bob Convey led the Red Flash with 21 points and Charlie Kates had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Begining with 5:04 left in the first half, the Midshipman powered through 13 straight points as St. Francis went 4 1/2 minutes without scoring. Another field goal completed Navy's 15-2 burst during that period to put the Mids up 34-25 at intermission.

Navy then scored the first six points of the second half to take the game well in hand.