Navy introduced North Carolina-Wilmington to the harsh reality of life on the road in the ECAC South tonight, easily handling the team that had bowed into the conference Saturday with a home victory over George Mason. It was Midshipmen 83, Seahawks 68, before 3,267 at Halsey Field House.
Navy sophomore David Robinson, who appeared jittery and tentative early and perhaps preoccupied with the courtside CBS camera, recovered to score 28 points, take 12 rebounds and block six shots. Vernon Butler had 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting, and Kylor Whitaker had 14.
Navy, 6-2 and 2-0 in the conference, has won 12 consecutive home games and 32 of its last 34.
"We knew they were big inside, and even with all our preparation they beat us anyway," said UNCW Coach Mel Gibson.
Ahead, 22-20, midway through the first half, Navy scored eight straight points. Doug Wojcik, who had 11 assists, made a layup and Robinson followed with two foul shots. After Butler scored on a drive in the lane, freshman Cliff Rees stole a pass by Bobby Joe Springer and went the length of the floor for the layin.
Following a timeout, Seahawk Brian Rowsom (12 points) scored on a tipin, but the Midshipmen answered with a 10-point drive on two baskets apiece by Butler and Whitaker and one by Robinson to extend their lead to 40-22.
"The key to the first half was Vernon Butler," said Navy Coach Paul Evans. "David (Robinson) was a little timid and took a while to get warmed up. But Vernon and Kylor Whitaker picked us up. They thought we had no outside game at all."
In the second half, the Seahawks (6-4, 1-1) could come no closer than 12 points. Rowsom scored six points at the start of the second half, but picked up his fourth foul with 16:49 left and thereafter UNCW suffered offensively.
Ahead, 56-44, Navy outscored the Seahawks, 16-6, for its largest lead of the game, 22 points.
Robinson began the run with a five-footer from the base line. Butler made a foul line jumper, Wojcik two free throws and Robinson four straight from the free throw line.
Paul Newman, who led UNCW with 20 points, made two jump shots, but reserve Kevin Coyne hit a corner jumper to put the Midshipmen up by 72-50.
"We figured we had a big height advantage coming in, so I wasn't real surprised we played well," said Butler. "Dave takes so many guys with him, it allows me to go inside."
"The defense is playing as well as it has since I've been here," said Evans. "Doug and Rees give us more pressure defense than we've had in the past."
UNCW, which will meet Richmond Saturday, after Navy plays the Spiders Wednesday, admitted it was a lesson. "Our high (from the George Mason game) had something to do with this low," said Gibson. "I hope Navy is not that good. I know we're not that bad."