Bucknell led 34-25 at halftime, behind the strength of guard Charles Lee. The 6-3 junior blistered the Navy defense in the first half, scoring 19 of his game-high 22. He was 6-of-6 from the field, including 3-of-3 from behind the arc, in staking the Bison to a nine-point halftime cushion. However, the Navy defense, which gave up 27 points by Kevin Bettencourt in the first meeting, a 66-62 Navy win on Jan. 30, held Bettencourt scoreless in the first half to stay within striking distance.
The Bucknell lead stayed between 10 and 15 in the first 11 minutes of the second half, when the Mids started to creep back into it. A Laramie Mergerson (Duncanville, Texas) layup cut the lead to eight with 7:55 to play. Twice in the next two minutes, Navy would cut the lead to seven (at 58-51 and 61-54). However, Bettencourt hit three straight shots, including two three-pointers in a span of two minutes to keep the Midshipmen at bay. Bettencourt would finish the game with nine points and four assists.
"You really have to pick your poison with Lee or Bettencourt," said Lange. "In the first game, we did a great job on Lee, but not on Betterncourt. Today, we did a great job on Bettencourt, but not on Lee. When I think of Bucknell basketball, you have to start with those two guards."
Bucknell would hold on at the free-throw line, hitting five free throws in the last five minutes and limiting Navy without a field goal in the last five minutes of the contest.
Freshman Greg Sprink (Cardiff, Calif.) continued his outstanding rookie campaign, leading Navy with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but was just 4-of-19 from the field, including 3-of-9 from three-point range. George O'Garro (Panorama, Calif.) was the other Midshipman in double-figures with 13 points, featuring a nine-for-13 performance from the free-three stripe. Navy also got an encouraging performance from sophomore Carlton Baldwin (Lusby, Md.), who was playing in his first game in almost three months. Baldwin tallied seven points and four rebounds in 14 minutes of action.
Navy shot 20-of-54 for the game, including 5-of-15 from beyond the arc. Bucknell was 24-of-44 from the field and 6-of-14 from three-point land. Navy dominated the glass, outrebounding the Bison, 37-26, including 21-11 on the offensive end. However, the Bison offset the rebounding disadvantage by forcing 22 Navy turnovers.
The Mids are in action next Saturday for a 7:00 p.m., tip-off at Lehigh.