ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Coming off of consecutive strong offensive outings, the Navy women’s basketball team struggled to find the bottom of the net on Saturday and shot just 25.5 percent from the field in a 59-43 loss to Rider. Tied at 38-38 all with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, a six-plus minute scoreless streak by the Mids (0-9) allowed the visiting Broncs (3-4) to take the lead and pull away late in the contest at Alumni Hall.
Team captain Mimi Schrader (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.) paced Navy on Saturday with 14 points, three three-pointers and two steals in 34 minutes of action. Freshman Shannon Clarke (Lawrence, Kan.) joined her in double figures with 10 points off the bench. Fellow freshman reserve Gia Pissott (Toms River, N.J.) added seven points and a team-high eight rebounds.
“We’ve been shooting the ball extremely well the last couple of games,” remarked head coach Tim Taylor. “That was one thing we came into this game thinking that we’d be able to do; score some points. We just hit 13 threes on Thursday night and were confident shooting the ball. We moved the ball well and ran our offensive effectively today. We got wide open looks and had a season-low in turnovers. For the entire third quarter, I felt that we took one bad shot, but went 1-15. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch any breaks. It’s frustrating when you have open shots and then watch them rattle out.”
The contest opened evenly as both teams found success in the paint early. Posts Kate Samson (Fr., Richmond, Va.) and Morganne Andrews (Jr., Martinsburg, W.Va.) scored baskets for Navy on its first two possessions, though Rider responded on both occasions to make it a 4-4 game through two minutes of action. The scoreboard stayed stagnant for nearly four minutes before the Broncs connected on back-to-back layups to jump ahead 8-4 at 3:51. The Mids converted three of four free throw attempts over the next two minutes to draw back within one, 8-7. Five straight points from Rider’s Raphaela Toussaint and late Clarke jumper closed the scoring at 13-9 in favor of the visitors.
Down by four, Navy quickly tied up the contest at 13-13 with baskets by Schrader and Clarke on consecutive trips down the court. A trading of field goals and later free throws advanced the score slowly to 16-16 by the 6:11 mark of the second quarter. Defense ruled the next three-plus minutes as neither team made a field goal, though the Broncs went five-for-five from the foul line to edge ahead 21-16 by 3:12. A 7-0 run by the Mids from 2:50 to 1:24 immediately shot the hosts back ahead. Schrader had the exclamation point of this stretch with a three-pointer from the corner. An explosive shot-for-shot conclusion to the first half saw Rider respond with a three-pointer of its own before Pissott sank her first collegiate trey with nine seconds to go. A half-court heave by the Broncs’ Amanda Mobley at the buzzer helped Rider take a 27-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Trailing by one, Navy knotted the score 79 seconds into the third quarter courtesy of a Maren Louridas (Fr., Delmar, N.Y.) free throw. Unfortunately for the hosts that was their only point for the first 5:15 of the period. Navy’s defense continued to keep Rider under control and only allowed six total points during that cold stretch. With the score 33-27, a jumper by Sydne Watts (Jr., Canton, Ga.) and an ensuing free throw by Clarke helped the Mids cut their deficit to three by 4:08. Watts’ basket was the only make of the period for Navy, though Rider only recorded five more points in the final minutes of the third to grab a 38-32 lead through 30 minutes of play.
Cold in the third quarter, Schrader sparked the Mids early in the final stanza as she opened up with back-to-back three-pointers to once again draw Navy even at 38-38 by the 8:57 mark. Unfazed, Rider responded with a 10-0 run over the next 3:56. With the score 48-38, Schrader kept forcing the issue for the Mids and got her team back within eight at 4:28 when she picked off Toni Blanford’s pass and went in for the breakaway layup. Giving it their all down the stretch, the Mids could not catch a break with the rims and scored just three points the rest of the game versus 11 for the Broncs to finalize the contest at 59-43.
“We had a couple of bad shots at the end when they [Rider] were pressing up on us,” said Taylor. “We had a big defensive miscue in the fourth quarter when we didn’t close out on Firebaugh and she ends up hitting a three. Also when we thought the ball was going out and Rider hustles to keep it in and it turns into another three-pointer. Those were two huge plays in the middle of the quarter that swung the score, momentum and eventual result in their favor.”
For the game, Rider outshot Navy, 35.8 percent (19-53) to 25.5 (14-55) from the field, 28.0 percent (7-25) to 16.7 (4-24) from three-point range and 82.4 percent (14-17) to 50.0 (11-22) from the foul line.
The Mids flexed their muscles on the glass with a 41-39 rebounding advantage. Pissott led Navy with eight rebounds. She was followed close behind by Louridas with six.
Navy had its best day handling the ball this season with just 12 turnovers. The Mids’ previous low was 16. Louridas was efficient in a distribution role with six assists.
Defensively, Navy recorded six steals, two each from Schrader and Clarke, and three combined blocks.
“Today was the best defensive effort we’ve had all season,” said Taylor in closing. “I thought we executed our offense and got the looks that we wanted to get. We need to keep improving our toughness and start repeating this defensive effort. Today we just couldn’t make shots.
“We need to stay positive and keep believing. We have a lot of great young talent and you can see it on the court. Most of our opponents we’ve played this year are very experienced and senior-heavy. We knew this season was going to be a roller coaster so we know we’ll get on that incline soon.”
The Mids will conclude the non-conference portion of its regular season schedule with a pair of road games next week. First up will be a Wednesday road tilt at Binghamton starting at 5:30 p.m. before making the shot trip to Georgetown next Sunday afternoon.