The setting was the New Sumo Hall here, where topknotted wrestlers compete in a venerable tradition. But the spirit tonight had an American flavor as the U.S. Naval Academy defeated the U.S. Military Academy, 93-63, in the final game of the Suntory Bowl basketball tournament.
The victory was the sixth straight for the Midshipmen in this intraservice rivalry and the 30-point margin was the largest in 63 games between the two schools.
Center David Robinson, named Navy's most valuable player in tonight's game, led the Midshipmen (6-2) with 19 points and also had nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. Forward Vernon Butler dominated beneath the boards with 17 rebounds and had 16 points.
Kevin Houston, Army's talented and hard-working guard, scored a game-high 23 points and was named Army's MVP. Forward Ron Steptoe of Washington, D.C., had nine points and five rebounds.
Army (4-4) could not mount an effective challenge to Navy near the basket, however, and the Cadets' outside shooting was too inconsistent to compensate. They were outrebounded, 60-40, and made just 24 of 74 field goal attempts (.324) compared with Navy's 32 of 60 (.533).
Navy Coach Paul Evans said he thinks his team is "definitely playing better now than we were coming into the tournament." In tonight's game, he said, "We outrebounded, which got our fast break going, and they had trouble getting off second shots against the zone (defense)."
In the second half, Robinson uncorked a series of alley-oop dunks that elicited appreciative roars from the boisterous crowd of more than 12,000.
"We were playing to win but also to give the crowd what they wanted," Butler said.