Navy's basketball team, threatened by Coach Paul Evans with a postgame practice if it did not sharpen its game in the second half, outscored North Carolina-Wilimington by 16-2 in the first seven minutes after intermission today and went on to a 95-68 Colonial Athletic Association victory before 3,985 at Halsey Field House.
Junior David Robinson, a 6-foot-11 center who moved into fourth place on Navy's all-time career scoring list in the first half, had 20 of his 31 points in the second half as the Midshipmen won their 12th straight home game. They have won 47 of their last 50 at home. The visitors are 12-9 overall and 3-5 in the CAA.
Another key contributor for Navy, which improved to 16-4 and 7-1, was Carl Liebert. A 6-6 junior who had been averaging five points and 3.9 rebounds, he became the fourth player to start at what had become the Midshipmen's troublesome small forward position.
He responded with 11 points, three assists and three rebounds in 25 solid minutes, and will start again Monday when East Carolina plays here.
The Midshipmen defeated the Seahawks earlier this season, 76-61, when Robinson blocked a school-record 14 shots. It started like that today; he blocked two shots in the opening minutes and Navy took a 30-12 lead as he dunked after a pass from Cliff Rees with 8:24 left in the first half.
But the Seahawks, who shot only 31 percent from the floor in the first meeting, rallied behind Brian Rowsom (25 points) and Bobby Jo Springer (16 points, six assists) to draw within 39-35 at the half.
"Coach said at halftime that we might practice tonight if we didn't get something going in the second half," Liebert said. "We had tests all week and didn't want to take a chance to lose a Saturday night out, because he was dead serious."
Robinson quickly scored seven points while the Seahawks went scoreless until Sandy Anderson's basket, from the top of the key 5:23 into the second half, ended Navy's 10-point run.
Robinson's three-point play with 10:50 remaining gave the Midshipmen a 64-41 lead that never was threatened, partially because flu-weakened Vernon Butler played a strong second half to finish with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
"We just get too relaxed when we have a big lead," said Robinson, whose 1,416 career points moved him past Rob Romaine (1,394) into fourth place on Navy's list. "We knew we could get a big lead if we came out and played smart, so we did. And Coach gave us plenty of incentive at halftime. I have never practiced after a game and did not want to start."
Mel Gibson, in his 14th season at North Carolina-Wilmington, was at a loss to explain why his team folded in the second half.
"I don't know what happened," he said. "I thought we did a pretty good job late in the first half; then we just never showed up in the second half. They buried us 16-2 right away and we couldn't get out of it."
Liebert, known thus far for his constant talking and sports trivia wizardry rather than his contributions, intends to make the most of the chance to claim Navy's only unsettled position.
"This is what I have worked my whole basketball career for," he said. "If Coach is looking for a scorer, I don't know if I can help him, because I am a garbage man picking up loose balls and odd rebounds. But those are the things I can do, and I will have to go out again Monday and keep doing them."