An energized Navy women’s basketball team turned in its most complete performance of the 2022-23 season in front of its alumni and rolled to a 63-43 victory over Loyola on Saturday afternoon. Hosting a large gathering of former players in conjunction with Jade Geif’s jersey retirement, the Mids (1-16, 1-5 PL) shot a crisp 45 percent from the field, while holding the Greyhounds (7-10, 2-4 PL) to just 27 percent. The loud fan base at Alumni Hall was treated to four complete quarters by Navy, in which it outscored Loyola in every frame, including a 10-point differential in the second quarter.
The Mids received contributions from throughout their roster on Saturday as seven of the 10 players that saw time scored points, while two others added assists or rebounds in effective time off the bench. Maren Louridas (Fr., Delmar, N.Y.) started out fast for Navy with eight points in the first quarter before eventually matching her career-high with 24 points on 9-17 shooting and a 5-10 mark from three-point range. Sydne Watts (Jr., Canton, Ga.) joined her in double figures with 16 points and a pair of three-pointers. Taking on the reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Year and preseason All-PL honoree Lex Therien, a talented post player for Loyola, Morganne Andrews (Jr., Martinsburg, W.Va.) and Gia Pissott (Fr., Toms River, N.J.) were relentless all game as Andrews scored four points to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds, while Pissott went for seven points and five boards.
“What a win!” exclaimed head coach Tim Taylor. “One of the most important stretches of the game was there in the third quarter when we turned it over five of six times and missed two free throws; it was nothing that Loyola was doing, those were on us. In the past we would’ve folded in that situation, we would’ve let that affect our defense; that’s what changed the game today. We played through that tough stretch and were able to increase our lead at the end of the quarter. That’s what I’m most proud of. Our effort on the boards and our boxing-out were outstanding; 41-25 against that team, that’s pretty good.
“We changed up our offense today, we tried to mix it up and make it more free flowing with more screens and more movement. We didn’t run a lot of set plays. Getting Lindsay back was huge. Her being able to play 20 minutes allows us to be fresher. Now we’re able to press a little more and get a little more movement out of our guards. That’s been a missing piece for us. Then all of a sudden you add in the way that Gia Pissott and Morgan Demos played in the post for us off the bench; everyone was contributing. Morganne Andrews has been playing tremendous lately for us, especially on the boards.”
The game opened on Saturday with a play that would pay dividends throughout the day for Navy, a three-pointer by Louridas. A brief 7-0 run by Loyola was quickly responded to by an inspired Mids team as Watts drew Navy within two before Louridas dialed up another trey to jump back into the lead at the 2:59 mark. The teams traded free throws over the next two minutes. With the Greyhounds up 11-9, a three-pointer out of the hands of Watts put the Mids ahead with a lead by one
Evenly-matched through one quarter of play, Loyola used a Cristina Garcia jumper to take its final lead of the game, 15-14 at 8:02. In a play that illustrated how much this contest meant to the Mids, Andrews scrambled to grab a long rebound and quickly tossed a pass out to a wide-open Louridas for a deep three-pointer at 7:06. Up 17-15, the Mids rattled off nine more unanswered points to break out to an 11-point lead 26-15. A jumper by Andrews at the end of the shot clock and Louridas’ fourth trey of the half highlighted this lengthy run for Navy. Each team added five points down the stretch to send the game into halftime at 31-20.
“We’ve been working with Maren a lot on her shot recently,” said Taylor. “Coach Mar [Marlena Tremba] and myself cleaned up a few things. We thought we found something that was missing from her shot. Even her misses today we dead on. We’re trying to work with her on getting that consistency. We don’t want her missing wildly. She really cares about her team and her performance; these recent struggles have been weighing on her. Today was a really good breakout for her.”
After a brief halftime ceremony to watch and celebrate Jade Geif as her number 21 was raised to the rafters of Alumni Hall, the Mids scored five of the first seven points to open the third quarter to go ahead by 14, 36-22 when Andrews turned in another hustle play of an offensive rebound and pushed a pass out to the perimeter where Louridas knocked down her fifth three-pointer of the game at 6:06. A tough run of unforced errors by Navy over the next four minutes allowed Loyola to creep back into the game and cut its deficit to nine points. The Mids’ team captain Mimi Schrader (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.) put an emphatic end to that run with a pull-up three-pointer at 2:09. The energy immediately swung back in Navy’s favor and the Mids scored on each of their final two possessions to go up 43-29 through three quarters of play.
Struggling to put together a complete 40-minute game during the first half of its season, Navy used its depth and talent to make sure that its large lead over Loyola would hold up in the fourth quarter on Saturday. Back-to-back baskets to start the fourth period by Louridas and Andrews expanded the Mids’ lead out to a then- game-high 18 points. After the Greyhounds clawed their way back to within 12, 50-38 by the 3:36 mark, Watts put the Mids’ offense on her back with five straight points. Ahead 55-38 with 2:29 left, Navy sealed its first victory of 2022-23 with a perfect 8-8 showing at the foul line to finalize the game at 63-43.
“This start to the season has been hard,” remarked Taylor. “I’m older, I’ve been through some ups-and-downs, they’re the ones I’ve been feeling for. The biggest thing for me has been trying to keep them motivated. Ultimately, they’re going to look at how I respond to situations. We’ve got to keep coaching them. We’re a young team. This team has continued to believe and continued to get better. They’re putting in the hard work day-in, day-out. We show up to practice, regardless of our record; you wouldn’t know we were 0-16 coming into today. That’s a testament to our kids, leadership and our staff. Hopefully, I’m leading them the right way.”
For the game, Navy outshot Loyola from the field, 44.9 percent (22-49) to 27.1 (13-48) and from three-point range, 38.1 percent (8-21) to 22.2 (2-9). Both teams were solid at the foul line as the Greyhounds edged the Mids, 75.0 percent (15-20) to 73.3 (11-15).
Navy dominated the rebounding battle on Saturday with a significant 41-25 advantage, including a 9-5 margin in offensive caroms. Andrews and Schrader led the Mids’ effort with rebounding totals of 11 and seven, respectively. Navy’s activity on the offensive glass resulted in an astounding 15-0 mark in second-chance points.
“Today was special with Jade’s ceremony and our alumni in town,” said Taylor in closing. “We haven’t had an opportunity to have a gathering like this the last couple of year so I was excited to get to personally get to know these special women. It’s really important for me to bring that back to our team. To have this type of performance on this day, it’s extremely memorable. It’s like the ‘Jenn Coleman shot’; you want to create memories for your kids. You want to give them things to talk about in 10 years.”
Navy will head out on a two-game road trip to the north with a Wednesday night tilt at Boston University before heading over to Army for the first leg in the Army-Navy rivalry on Saturday morning. The Mids and Terriers are set to tip-off at 6 p.m. in Boston, while the Mids and Black Knights have a scheduled 11:00 a.m. tip.