ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy women’s basketball team dropped a 64-50 decision to the University of Albany in the squad’s 2022-23 home opener on Wednesday night. Taking on an experienced Great Dane (3-0) team that won the America East conference last year and is projected again to earn the league’s berth in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, the Mids (0-3) were hamstrung by a slow offensive start and a 13-point halftime deficit at Alumni Hall.
Freshmen Maren Louridas (Delmar, N.Y.) and Gia Pissott (Toms River, N.J.) spearheaded Navy’s individual efforts on Wednesday as Louridas scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Pissott tallied a team-high 10 rebounds to go along with eight points.
“I’m proud of the way we competed tonight,” remarked head coach Tim Taylor. “We’re young and are trying to figure some things out. We’re still learning. We kept fighting. We missed some layups earlier on and you can’t give too many of those away against a very tough and experienced team like Albany. As we get physically stronger and more experienced, you’ll continue to see our growth.
“Albany is a really good team; they’re very well-rounded. They were one of the best defensive teams in the nation last season. We knew it was going to be a difficult matchup for us, but at the end of the day we just didn’t make shots. We got ourselves in position to get good looks with layups and open threes, but just didn’t convert. We can’t dig that big of a hole versus a team like that.”
The game opened slowly, but evenly as both sides recorded just one basket over the initial four minutes of action with a Lilly Phillips layup for UAlbany and Mimi Schrader (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.) answering with a driving scoop and score for Navy. Over the next three-plus minutes following Schrader’s basket, the Great Danes went on a 7-0 run before Kate Samson (Fr., Richmond, Va.) entered the scoring conversation with a physical offensive rebound and quick putback at 3:49. The next time down the court, fellow freshman Shannon Clarke (Lawrence, Kan.) spun around her defender and floated a successful layup in to make it 11-6. Unfortunately for Navy that was its final basket of the first quarter as UAlbany closed out the stanza on a 6-0 run.
With the score 17-6 in favor of the visitors, the second quarter opened with a similar scoring pace to the first as both teams netted just two field goals over the first four-plus minutes of action. Pissott and Louridas were credited with the Mids’ two baskets during this span as Pissott grabbed a long offensive rebound and athletically twisted to the hoop for a layup at 6:18 and Louridas drove from the wing for a layup of her own at 5:49. Navy drew to within nine on the ensuing possession when Pissott sank both of her free throw attempts. On their heels, but unfazed by the Mids’ challenge, the Great Danes responded with 12 of the next 16 points to extend their lead out to a then-game-high 17 (33-16) at 1:59. An individual 4-0 run by Sydne Watts (Jr., Canton, Ga.) closed Navy’s deficit to 13 points, 33-20, going into the halftime intermission.
The Mids’ struggle to find their offensive rhythm early in a period hampered their efforts in the third as they went over seven minutes without a basket. UAlbany used this cold stretch and broke open the game to a 21-point margin, 41-20 before Schrader knocked down a three-point from the corner at 2:55. A second trey in as many possessions, this time by Louridas made it a 44-26 contest. For the second straight period, Watts found her shot late and rattled off four points over the final 68 seconds to make it a 50-30 score through three quarters.
Continuing to show their grit and competitiveness, the Mids kept battling with the Great Danes deep into the fourth quarter. From the 5:00 mark of the final period with the score 56-37, Navy outscored UAlbany 13-8 to the end of the contest. The three-point shot was the catalyst for the Mids’ final push as Schrader found success from distance at 2:30 before Louridas sank back-to-back threes at 1:38 and 1:04. A late Pissott jump shot from the paint drew Navy within 13 points and triggered a timeout from UAlbany with 26 seconds remaining. One final free throw by the Great Danes finalized the score at 64-50.
For the game, UAlbany outshot Navy, 40.4 percent (21-52) to 33.9 (20-59) from the field and 23.5 percent (4-17) to 22.7 (5-22) from three-point range. The Mids posted a slightly better mark from the free throw line 83.3 percent (5-6) to 81.8, though the Great Danes had a much greater quantity as they went 18-22 from the charity stripe.
In the battle on the glass, the hosts grabbed one more rebound than the visitors, 36-35. Pissott tied for a game-high with 10 boards, five on offense and five on defense. As a team, Navy was active on the offensive glass with 13 o-boards.
Defensively, the Mids blocked six Great Dane shots on Wednesday night as six players each recorded one rejection.
“We’re going to go through some growing pains this year with ups-and-downs,” said Taylor in closing. “What really hurt us today was Kate getting in foul trouble. We couldn’t take advantage of her size and throwing the ball into the block as much as we would’ve liked. We fouled a little bit too much, but defensively I thought we were a lot better tonight than in our first two games.”
Navy will continue its early season non-conference action with a road tilt at Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off in Emmitsburg, Md. is set for 1 p.m.