After gaining momentum from two technical fouls against Army in the final minutes of the first half, Navy made 11 of its first 13 shots after intermission and defeated the Cadets, 80-69, before 5,150 at Halsey Field House today.
Navy (15-10) stopped its arch rival for the third straight time in basketball, the first time the Midshipmen have accomplished that since 1959-61.
Guard Rob Romaine was the leading Midshipman scorer with 23 points. Four came in the final minutes when Army (8-17) threatened to erase a 12-point deficit.
Navy opened the second half in a rush, making shots from nearly everywhere, and improved a two-point halftime edge to 59-47 midway in the period. Romaine and his back court mates David Brooks (16 points) and Jim Kuzma (19) accounted for 13 of the first 17 points.
Army retaliated, however. Kenny Schwartz, who burned the host team for 20 first-half points (29 in all), finally got some breathing room from Romaine and scored a basket. Mike Michaelsen converted a three-point play and the Cadets had streaked back to within a basket, 65-63, with about five minutes to play.
But Army had spent itself in the rally. The Cadets' starters began picking up fouls and Navy regained control, this time for good.
"We had a good lead and we dropped back in our zone," Navy Coach Paul Evans said. "We felt we could let them make a few out there. When they got close, we sagged back and everyone went to the boards."
Evans lauded Kuzma, a senior with a four-points-a-game average, for coming up with possibly the game of his career.
Army's shooting touch disappeared in the final minutes. The visitors failed to score on four consecutive possessions and Navy ran off a 9-0 spurt for a 74-63 lead with 2:04 remaining.
"We were up but they came right back," said Romaine, who had six assists. "They have good shooting guards and we were packed back in a 2-3 zone. We were still pressing the ball though, trying to make them start their offense farther out. We came up with a couple of steals, some long rebounds and got a couple of easy baskets."
Navy's main inside threat, 6-foot-10 Cliff Maurer, hurt his knee blocking a shot in the first half and played sparingly the rest of the game. So Romaine, Brooks and Kuzma began scoring over Army's zone. A 20-footer by Romaine cut Army's lead to 31-29 four minutes before the interval. Army then took itself right out of the game.
West Point Coach Les Wothke, irritated over the officiating, yelled a bit too loudly and was charged two technical fouls. Romaine made three of the four shots and also a basket on Navy's possession as the Midshipmen grabbed a 36-31 lead with 3:36 on the clock.
"The techs hurt us," Wothke said. "The officiating . . . well, that's part of the game.