RICHMOND, VA., JAN. 9 -- Rodney Rice, a senior guard from St. John's High in Washington, scored 21 of his game-high 24 points in the first half and led Richmond to a 78-63 victory over Navy tonight in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both teams at Robins Center.

Navy (3-7 overall) won the conference three straight years. But Richmond (9-2) has beaten Navy once in each of the last three years, the only CAA team to beat Navy since the 1984-85 season.

Rice, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, made six of 10 three-point shots, including five in the first half as the Spiders took a 15-3 lead early and a 44-31 lead at halftime.

Richmond, shooting well from the outset in the first half, used the inside strength of Peter Woolfolk and Steve Kratzer in the second half. Woolfolk had 12 of his 17 points in the second half and Kratzer finished with 15. Richmond owned a decisive rebounding edge, 48-32.

Richmond extended its lead to 59-42 with 11:56 remaining and never led by fewer than 12 points after that. Navy was hurt by foul trouble, as Eddie Reddick and Matt Nordmann both fouled out.

Navy guard Cliff Rees, who entered the game with 53 points in his last two games, was held to six points. But Byron Hopkins, a 6-9 sophomore center, scored a career-high 20 points for Navy.NAVY Min FG FT R A PF T Nordmann 34 3-5 2-4 8 3 8 8 Reddick 30 4-8 3-8 8 2 5 11 Hopkins 37 6-11 8-10 5