Manhattan's basketball team is struggling through a season so bad that some student spectators covered their heads with paper bags at today's final home game against Navy. In the end, it was the Mids who should have hidden from view.
With junior guard John Leonard scoring a career-high 31 points, the Jaspers ended a 13-game losing streak by defeating the Mids, 65-57. Manhattan prevailed by connecting on 25 of 32 free-throw attempts, while the Mids clicked on just seven of 14, missing seven of the first 10 attempts.
Navy held a 25-24 halftime lead, but lost an opportunity to build a far bigger margin by missing four of five free throws and failing to capitalize on a stretch of more than nine minutes in which Manhattan was unable to sink a field goal.
"We had a chance to pull away, but we made a couple of stupid mistakes, fouling somebody who can't even score," said disgusted Navy Coach Paul Evans, who repeatedly inserted substitutes in the hope of finding someone to play with emotion.
Manhattan ripped off the first nine points of the second half, with Leonard collecting seven, to move ahead at 33-25. Navy never caught up, but managed to stay close more because of Manhattan errors than through its own initiative.
With Manhattan ahead, 47-45, Leonard twice was fouled by Mike Jones and hit three of four shots. Bill McLellan, fouled by Gary Price, made two as the Jaspers entered the penalty phase, and it was suddenly 52-45. The Mids were never closer than five thereafter.
Although Manhattan made only one field goal in the last 6 1/2 minutes, it was successful on 16 of 20 free throws, with Leonard sinking nine of 10.
"We didn't hit the free throws, we just bricked them up there," Evans said. "Then they hit all of them. You open the door for a team like that and they start to think they can win one. We rebounded very poorly against a team we should have rebounded well against. And we had a
David Brooks, the Mids' only double-figure scorer over the season, was troubled by an upset stomach and scored just five points before he fouled out. Brooks was two for eight from the floor. Price led the Mids with 14.
Navy, now 8-16, has more defeats than any Annapolis five except the 4-19 club of 1969-70. Still, the Mids are in contention for a berth in the ECAC South Tournament. Asked if he wanted an invitation, Evans said, "No."
Navy closes its regular season Saturday at home against Army and, asked whether he expected any problems generating emotion for that one, Evans said, "If there is, there's something wrong, which I question also."