Senior guard Kevin Greaney made his first five shots and his first 11 free throws tonight in a 27-point performance that carried Holy Cross to a 78-66 victory over Navy.
It was the first defeat in three games for the Midshipmen, who had more turnovers (22) than rebounds (20). Coach Paul Evans used seven different men in the front court, but none could make up for the absence of captain Myron Simons, forced to watch because of a broken nose that was set Wednesday.
Despite the Crusaders' decided advantage in height, strength and aggressiveness, Navy managed to stay close for 28 minutes, thanks largely to the efforts of sophomore guard Rob Romaine, who got 16 points and seven assists before fouling out.
But it was some unwise words by Romaine that finally enabled Holy Cross (2-1) to break away after Dave Brooks scored off a give-and-go.
Romaine had given Navy its last lead, 50-49, with 12:15 remaining. Ernie Floyd, a 6-foot-9 junior, put Holy Cross back in front with his only basket of the game. Then Romaine was charged with fouling Greaney. He complained, received a technical foul, and Greaney sank three free throws for a 54-50 advantage.
With the Crusaders keeping the ball, Gary Price's foul of Floyd resulted in two more free throws, making it a five-point play and a 56-50 differential with 10:51 left.
The rest of the contest was a foul-shooting travesty, with each team getting only four field goals. By the time the game ended, 2 hours 10 minutes after it began, Holy Cross had made 32 of 42 free throws, Navy 16 of 26.
The Crusaders had a 31-20 advantage rebounding, although they were just as inept handling the ball, committing 21 turnovers.
Two earlier technical fouls also had a considerable affect on the game. With three minutes left in the first half and Holy Cross ahead, 29-25, Navy's Rich Davidson tried to block a fast-break layup by Larry Westbrook. The shot missed and, instead of goaltending, Davidson was charged with a technical for jarring the backboard.
Greaney, who had been resting, replaced Westbrook and sank the free throw. Westbrook immediately returned to the lineup and Holy Cross took the ball out of bounds. A half-minute later, after Davidson sank a base-line jumper and Romaine made the first of two free throws, Navy protested the illegal substitution.
After a 15-minute debate among coaches and officials, with the Navy band helping to disrupt their conversation, the protest was upheld because Westbrook returned without movement of the clock and Holy Cross was charged with a technical. Romaine sank two more free throws to tie the score and, with Navy awarded possession, quick baskets by Bill Freitag and Romaine gave the Midshipmen a 34-30 advantage.