Feb. 14, 2009
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Chris Harris scored 28 points and Kaleo Kina narrowly missed a triple-double with 18 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the Navy men's basketball team cruised to a 90-67 win over Lafayette on Saturday night at Alumni Hall. The win moves Navy's record to 17-8 overall and 6-4 in the Patriot League, while Lafayette fell to 6-19 overall and 2-8 in league play.
The win allows Navy to remain in third place in the league standings and, coupled with the other league results, moved the Mids a game-and-a-half ahead of Colgate and two games ahead of the Raiders in the loss column.
In addition, Navy's 23-point victory was the largest against a Patriot League opponent since an 89-53 win over Lehigh on Feb. 23, 2000, and the 17 wins are the most during the Billy Lange era.
"I think we are a good team and the guys are confident in themselves and that was a good win tonight," said head coach Billy Lange. "Lafayette is a dangerous team to play against and I felt we were focused for a good portion of this game.
"These guys want to win so much, almost too much. They want to win for each other, for the Academy, for the history of the program and for the future. I think when you look back at the great Bucknell and Holy Cross teams of the past couple of years, that is the standard they are holding to themselves," said Lange. "What we told them is that we have to run our own journey. I think we have established ourselves as an upper-echelon team, but in the pursuit of perfection, you learn from your imperfections and we learned from Wednesday night, and played very focused tonight. I am excited and very confident in this group as we go into the stretch run."
After a see-saw first six-plus minute of the game and a 20-18 Navy lead, the Mids blew the game open with an 11-0 run over 2:23 to take a 31-18 cushion with 10:08 to play. The Mids would expand the lead, taking a 48-32 advantage with 2:08 to play before settling in for a 50-35 halftime cushion.
The Leopards would cut the lead to 12 at 51-39 with 17:27 to play, but the Midshipmen embarked on another 11-0 run to take a 23-point lead at 62-39 with 14:56 to play.
Lafayette would get no closer than 17 (84-67) points the rest of the way as the Mids posted its second-most lopsided win of the season, 90-67.
Harris led the Mids with 28 points connecting on 11-of-18 field goal attempts and 4-of-9 three-point tries. The junior guard added five rebounds, three assists and three steals as he moved into 21st place on the career scoring list with 936 points. His four three-pointers gave him 76 for the season, pushing him into a second-place tie with Greg Sprink and Michael Heary for three-pointers in a season, behind just his 91 treys a year ago.
"I got good looks tonight, because we moved on offense," said Harris. "Our flow was great. We were moving the ball and our spacing was great, so it opened up a lot for our offense."
Meanwhile, for the second time in three games, Kaleo Kina nearly recorded a triple-double with 18 points, a season-high nine assists and eight rebounds. Two games ago against Bucknell, Kina tallied 17 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists. In the last three games, Kina is averaging 13.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 7.0 apg, while having just seven turnovers.
"Kaleo is tremendous, but again this is his journey," said Lange. "Kaleo and I talked at length yesterday that this is it for him and how far he and the team has come. He is enjoying it. This is the end of the journey and this is where you leave your legacy. He came out tonight and he was phenomenal. His defense was great. It was everything."
Clif Colbert also added a season-high 19 points (7-of-10 shooting) with six rebounds. O.J. Avworo had eight points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals.
The Mids shot 35-of-70 (.500) from the field and were 9-of-20 (.450) from three-point range and 11-of-13 (.846) from the free throw line. Navy recorded a season-best 22 assists and had 17 turnovers while outrebounding the Leopards, 44-34.
Lafayette shot 21-of-62 (.339) from the field and was 11-of-35 (.314) from the three-point line. The Leopards were 14-of-15 (.933) from the free throw line and had 21 turnovers. The Mids outscored the Leopards, 31-6, off turnovers and had 19 fast-break points to Lafayette's five.
Michael Gruner led the Leopards with 15 points, while Ryan Willen had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Andrew Brown, who had 20 in the teams' first meeting, managed just six points on 2-of-10 shooting.
"Chris (Harris) did an unbelievable job on Andrew Brown (Lafayette's leading scorer). I thought our defense was very good," said Lange. "We got out and ran the floor and got good looks, rebounded and defended. That is who we are, and that is the key to our success."
Navy will head north for a Wednesday night contest at Holy Cross, beginning at 7:00 pm in Worcester, Mass. The Crusaders are in second place in the league standings with an 8-2 record.
# GO NAVY #