ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy women’s basketball team dropped its final game before the Thanksgiving holiday to Monmouth by a score of 76-56 on Tuesday night at Alumni Hall. Mired in a lengthy first quarter slump, the Mids (0-5) fought valiantly to draw within six points at halftime before falling to a more experienced and sharpshooting Hawks (3-2) team.
Maren Louridas (Fr., Delmar, N.Y.) sparked Navy’s offensive comeback during the first half as she hit six three-pointers in a run of eight attempts late in the first quarter and early in the second. For the game, she finished with a career-high 24 points to go along with four rebounds and five assists over 37 minutes of action. Sydne Watts (Jr., Canton, Ga.) provided secondary scoring assistance with 18 points.
“We always talk about how we have to compete,” said head coach Tim Taylor. “We’re a young team. It doesn’t matter what the score is; they know we have a standard that we want to play to and that we have to keep competing. Monmouth hit 10 of their first 11 shots, that wasn’t going to last forever. We kept grinding and were able to find some things. Maren got hot and found her stroke. Once we got back into the game in the second quarter, we weren’t able to tighten it up further because we ran into a stretch of bad shots; we were forcing shots. Young teams need to understand that we just made this big run now it’s time to buckle down and take really good shots and make stops on the defensive end.”
Navy opened the game with a Kate Samson (Fr., Richmond, Va.) basket on its second possession to take an early 2-0 lead 56 seconds in. From that point in the period for the ensuing 5:27, Monmouth rattled off a 21-1 run, including 15 unanswered points at one stretch. Successful field goals on back-to-back possessions by Louridas and Gia Pissott (Fr., Toms River, N.J.) helped the Mids stop the streak and make it 21-8 game at the 3:05 mark. That initial make by Louridas sparked the freshman down the stretch as she sank two more three-pointers to conclude the period at 24-14 in favor of Monmouth.
That late 6-0 run was a catalyst to more offense for Navy in the second quarter as it rode the hot hand of Louridas and the freshman guard hit three of her first four shots from long range over the opening 3:46 of the stanza. Louridas’ sixth trey of the game drew Navy to within three points of Monmouth at 26-23. The difference in experience between the Mids and Hawks was illustrated over the next three-plus minutes as Monmouth calmly compiled an 8-2 run to build its lead back out to nine, 34-25 at 2:55. Navy shot 1-of-7 during this slump with three turnovers. The freshmen duo of Kelli Giuliani (Fr., Oakton, Va.) and Samson rallied the Mids late with a field goal and free throw to make it a 34-28 game at the halftime intermission.
The second half began evenly as a short 4-0 run by the Hawks was responded to by a 5-0 individual run by Watts over the first 2:09 of play. With the score 38-33, Monmouth registered 12 of the next 14 points to break open the contest to a 50-35 margin at 3:05. The only Midshipman with points in the quarter, Watts continued to shoulder the team’s offensive effort with another 5-0 individual run to shrink the host’s deficit back to ten, 50-40 by the 1:16 mark. The Hawks closed the period with five unanswered points to re-gain a 15-point advantage at the quarter break. In total, Watts scored all 12 points for Navy in the third.
Monmouth extended its scoring run with consecutive three-pointers by Jen Louro and Antonia Panayides to help the visitors take a 21-point lead, 61-40 at 8:47. The Mids’ high-scoring duo of Watts and Louridas attempted to re-fire the team’s offense with a points on back-to-back possessions to make it a 61-44 game, but unfortunately they were unable to help Navy draw closer than 17 points the rest of the contest. Watts and Louridas each added four more points to their respective scoring totals in the remainder of the fourth quarter. Additionally, Pissott and Morganne Andrews (Jr., Martinsburg, W.Va.) found the bottom of the net for the Mids down the stretch. The game went final with a 76-56 score.
“The speed of the game when you’re taking on an experienced team with seasoned guard play is often times difficult for our young players; they make it uncomfortable,” commented Taylor. “We have to find a way to slow down the game for our players. We have to work on our communication on defense. The college game is different than what they’ve done in the past. They’re going against bigger, stronger, faster, older players; it’s going to take time. A credit to Monmouth, they hit a lot of tough shots. We got close a few times, but they made shots when it mattered.
“We continued to fight all 40 minutes. I’m really proud of that. We never quit. We continued to play. That’s what we’re going to have to do. We need to catch a break with our health as we were down five players tonight. We need to make sure we have a good day of prep on Friday with two quality opponents ahead of us this weekend.”
For the game, Monmouth outshot Navy from the field, 54.7 percent (29-53) to 35.1 (20-57) and from three-point range, 47.8 percent (11-23) to 36.4 (8-22). The Mids held a slight advantage in free throw shooting, 80.0 percent (8-10) to 70.0 (7-10).
The visitors won the rebounding battle with a 34-30 edge on the glass. The Mids were active on the offensive side of the ledger with 12 rebounds, Mimi Schrader (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.) and Savanna Lewis (So., Los Lunas, N.M.) both had three offensive caroms.
Navy continued improving its ball handling with 12 assists on Tuesday and a season-low 16 turnovers. Louridas paced the Mids with five helpers.
“We need to ensure we continue to grow and improve throughout the year,” Taylor said in closing. “We have to keep our heads up and stay positive. Even if we were healthy, we knew that relying on so many freshmen was going to have its ups-and-down. Being a freshman at the Naval Academy is tough and being an 18-year-old Division I basketball player is tough too. We need to keep it positive as we weather this early stretch of the season. We’re heading in the right direction, we just need to keep putting in the work and getting better.
Navy will be back in action this weekend with a pair of first-time matchups as part of the 2022 Navy Classic. The Mids will first face off with the Northern Illinois Huskies on Saturday starting at 1:30 p.m. before going head-to-head with the Idaho Vandals on Sunday at 1 p.m.