Vernon Butler had a school-record 23 rebounds, 19 points and blocked two shots as Navy beat Delaware, 87-53, tonight before 2,135 at Halsey Field House.

Navy (12-2) has won nine straight, its best streak in 38 years. It was also Navy's 15th straight victory here. Delaware is 7-9.

The Midshipmen, who held Delaware to 32 percent shooting, broke the game open early. They led, 11-10, with 15:36 left in the first half. By the 11:20 mark, it was 20-10, Navy.

Kylor Whitaker scored the first four points of the run and David Robinson scored the last five, getting an assist from Whitaker on a three-point play that ended the streak.

The Blue Hens never scored more than two straight baskets the rest of the half.

But Butler provided most of the heavy-duty chores. With 7:13 remaining in the half, he missed a turnaround jumper and thrice rebounded it. Fouled on his fourth try, he made two from the line for a 25-16 lead. The Midshipmen led at the half by 39-21. Delaware could make only 10 of 36 shots from the floor (28 percent) in the half.

"Rebounding is self-motivation," said Butler, who credits his High Point High school Coach Al Moraz with teaching him most of his rebounding skills.

"I was averaging about 11 (rebounds) a game but went down to around eight a game before Christmas. I don't think I was aggressive enough, and I had to get back to that without getting in foul trouble."

Butler has held the school rebounding record since getting 22 last year against George Mason.

"Since Christmas break he's been super on the boards," said Navy Coach Paul Evans. "He's been rebounding better since he's been in the middle. We moved Robinson (a 6-foot-11 sophomore) to the wing where he's more mobile than Butler (a 6-7 junior). He (Robinson) gets a lot of rebounds from that position, and Vernon, who isn't as mobile, picks up a lot inside."

Last week against Lafayette, Butler became the ninth player in Navy history to score 1,000 points. Tonight he scored 12 of his points in the second half mop-up.

"We've been working the ball into Dave the first eight games and teams have been collapsing on him, double- and triple-teaming," said Butler. "So lately, after watching the films, we saw that they (opponents) weren't playing me straight up. So the guys have been coming to me more and, now that I'm getting more points, it's like we have a double threat. Hopefully teams will start playing me harder and free up Dave more."

Robinson finished with a game-high 21 points and Whitaker had 10. The Midshipmen outrebounded Delaware, 56-46.