The Navy women’s basketball team found itself in a slugfest on Wednesday night on the road at Lafayette. Up by one at halftime, 23-22 and 28-22 early in the third quarter, the Mids (0-16, 0-5 PL) were unable to navigate a lengthy 21-0 run by the Leopards (4-11, 1-4 PL) in that same third quarter as the complexion of the game completely changed. A valiant challenge by Navy deep into the fourth cut its deficit down to nine points before eventually falling by a final score of 69-57 at the Kirby Sports Center.
Mimi Schrader (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.) provided the offensive fireworks for the Mids in their comeback attempt as she scored 10 points in the final 2:43 on her way to matching her career-high with 18 points. Additionally, she tied her season-high with eight rebounds. In her first game back from an offseason shoulder injury, Lindsay Llewellyn (Sr., North East, Md.) backed-up her classmate with eight points and five rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench.
“After grinding through the first half, I thought we had some chances early that we didn’t capitalize on in the third quarter; we took a six-point lead and then let them roll out on a 21-0 run,” remarked head coach Tim Taylor. “This team really struggles when our opponents make a run. There were times that we’d make a stop, but it looked there was a lid on the basket for us on offense. Ultimately, they [Lafayette] did a good job of getting out in transition and getting high-level production from their best two players, Abby Antognoli and Jessica Booth, who ended up with 45 points; well over their combined average of 20. They did what they had to do.
“It was nice to get Lindsay back. She gives us more depth and options. We spread it out a little more offensively tonight. We haven’t felt like we could do that from a standpoint with our guards before. With Lindsay coming back she was a fourth guard for us. She helped us play faster. Honestly, we hoped to play even faster in this game. The ability to play fast requires you to get stops and unfortunately, we didn’t get stops in that third quarter. I think sometimes when teams go on a four-or-five-minute run we’re looking for a magic bullet to cure everything instead of playing good defense and doing the right things on offense. Tonight, we spread the floor more and tried to do a little more dribble-drive to see what we could do in attack mode.”
The game opened up slowly as Lafayette crept out to a 4-2 lead over the first five-plus minutes. Schrader put Navy ahead at 5:11 when she controlled a batted pass in the corner and immediately lined up for a three-pointer. Another trey, this time by Maren Louridas (Fr., Delmar, N.Y.) at 3:25 built the Mids’ lead out to 8-4. Each team only added one more made basket over the closing minutes of the quarter, though the Leopards were able to add two points via free throws to make it just a 10-8 score in favor of Navy at the end of one quarter. Both teams shot under 25 percent in the opening frame as the Mids were 4-of-17 (23.5 percent), while the Leopards were 3-of-18 (16.7 percent).
A 9-2 start to the second quarter by Lafayette helped the hosts break out to a 17-12 advantage by the 6:10 mark. Showing her senior guile and experience, Llewellyn quickly evened the score at 17-17 with back-to-back baskets coming over a 33-second run of play. The back-and-forth action continued as the Leopards jumped ahead 20-17 before Morganne Andrews (Jr., Martinsburg, W.Va.) tallied four straight points, including a long rebound and a coast-to-coast dribble and drive for an easy layup. Up 21-20 with 3:00 left in the period, both sides added one field goal to send the contest into the halftime intermission with Navy ahead 23-22.
The Mids started the third quarter off fast as they recorded the first five points of the frame with Kate Samson (Fr., Richmond, Va.) recording an offensive rebound and ‘and-one’ put back followed up on the next possession by a Schrader layup. With the score 28-22 at 8:48, Navy fell victim to a 21-0 run over the next six-plus minutes. Down 15, 43-28, Schrader stopped the tailspin with a three-pointer from the near corner at 2:40. Lafayette expanded their run out to 28-5 to close the quarter with seven of the final nine points. As a team, the Leopards made 10 field goals, including three three-pointers and five free throws, while defensively causing nine turnovers by the Mids in their explosive quarter of a play.
Down 50-33 after three quarters, Navy was unable to make up any ground on Lafayette for the first seven minutes of the period as both teams tallied 10 points to advance the score to 60-43 by the 2:55 mark. A whirlwind conclusion to the game saw the determined Mids rattle off a 9-1 run over the next 1:56 to draw within nine, 61-52. The duo of Schrader and Sydne Watts (Jr., Canton, Ga.) bolstered Navy’s offensive during this stretch as they combined for three three-pointers, two for Schrader and one for Watts. Clutch free throw shooting by Lafayette in the final 55 seconds, 8-of-10, helped the hosts hold onto the 69-57 victory. Of note, Schrader registered four of the Mids’ final five points.
For the game, Navy posted higher shooting percentages from the field, 36.1 percent (22-61) to 34.4 (22-64) and from three-point range, 30.4 percent (7-23) to 29.4 (5-17), but Lafayette held a substantial edge in free throws taking 16 more shots and outshooting Navy, 69.0 percent (20-29) to 46.2 (6-13).
Another leading factor in the host squad’s victory was a 49-41 advantage in rebounds and a 16-9 margin in offensive boards. Schrader led Navy with eight rebounds, one shy of her career-high.
Defensively, the Mids forced the Leopards into 15 turnovers and were credited with three steals. Additionally, Samson registered a game-high two blocked shots.
“At some point, we have to look in the mirror and ask ‘what are we doing’ and that starts with me as the coach,” said Taylor. “As a staff, we have to see what can we do to make this team get better. We’re dealing with a lot of growing pains right now. We play 32 minutes of pretty good basketball most of the time, but then we have an eight-minute stretch where we’re either not getting stops or making shots. What causes us to lose those eight minutes?
“We need to work on getting our freshman back to playing at the level they were earlier in the year. Once again, that falls on me. I’ll take responsibility for where we are and take a look in the mirror to figure out how we can make this team better. I love coaching this team and these young women; they come to practice every day and bust their rear ends, they play really, really hard and want to win, we just need to find a way to execute and achieve that. Ultimately, that falls on me.”
Navy will be back in action at home on Saturday with a 2 p.m. tilt against Loyola. Saturday’s game will also have a special jersey retirement ceremony for Navy legend Jade Geif during halftime of the contest between the Mids and Greyhounds.