Navy and Army showed a packed Halsey Fieldhouse this afternoon that their intense, bitter rivalry could move from the football field to the basketball court.
After 45 minutes of exhilarating, if not artistic basketball between two struggling teams, Navy outlasted Army, 68-66, in overtime.
It probably was the most satisfying victory of the year for the Midshipmen (9-16), who took a 10-0 lead by playing at racehorse speed instead of at their usual tortoise pace.
The Cadets (7-19) tightened their defense and outplayed Navy the rest of the half to trail, 22-21, at intermission. The Mids, unaccustomed to playing transition basketball, made only 40 percent of their shots.
Supersub freshman Bob Romaine almost single-handedly dragged his teammates to victory by scoring 11 of Navy's 14 points after regulation ended 54-54.
Romaine, a stocky 6-foot-2 guard from New Jersey, had 22 of his game-high 24 points after the first half.
After Cadet forward Tony Water had muscled in a layup to give Army a 47-40 lead with seven minutes remaining, Romaine began his streak of offensive dominance with a baseline jumper that made the score 47-42.
After Bill Freitag's jumper closed the Army margin to 47-44 with 5:47 left, Romaine pulled the Mids to within one, 47-46, on an 18-foot jumper from the left corner. He assisted on Myron Simons' dunk that tied the game at 54 with 2:20 left.
Army didn't have a field goal in the last nine minutes of regulation, but stayed in contention on free throws.
Navy controlled the center tap to begin the overtime and Romaine made two free throws after being fouled by Paul Mongan, who, with two other Cadet starters, fouled out in the five-minute period.
Romaine's running one-hander in the lane put the Mids ahead for good. Army managed to close to 62-61, but Romaine's free throws enabled Navy to hold its lead. He scored Navy's first 10 points in overtime.