The Navy women’s basketball team came up short against an experienced Army squad on Saturday in the first leg of the teams’ 2023 series. Playing at a jam-packed and loud Christl Arena on the campus of the United States Military Academy, the Mids (1-18, 1-7 PL) rallied and drew within one point mid-way through the third quarter before the Black Knights (6-12, 4-4 PL) pulled away over the final 15 minutes to secure the 75-61 victory.

Playing in her first Army-Navy game, freshman Maren Louridas (Delmar, N.Y.) filled up the box score with team-highs of 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists over 36 minutes of action. In her fourth game of the season after returning from injury, Lindsay Llewellyn (Sr., North East, Md.) recorded 15 points, two rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes off the bench.

“We missed some really easy baskets early,” remarked head coach Tim Taylor. “In the second quarter we really sat down, stopped jumping and started to guard better. On the glass, we were boxing out much more effectively. We made a really good run to start the third quarter and then the experience of their seniors took over. When we cut it to one, Sabria Hunter got behind us on the offensive glass and made a basket there and then we come down and turn it over and they come back and run a really good play. Their offense started clicking over the last couple minutes of the third quarter.

“Their seniors, Sabria [Hunter], Kam [Hall] and Hope [Brown] were really the difference for them in the second half. Hope played great defense, her stats may not show it, but she was so effective. I was told seniors win these types of games. I think that’s what you saw today.”

The contest started heavily in Army’s favor as the hosts ran out to a 9-0 lead over the first 2:05 of play. A small 6-2 rebuttal by Navy from 7:41 to 5:35 helped the Mids cut their deficit to five at 11-6. Mimi Schrader (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.), Kate Samson (Fr., Richmond, Va.) and Llewellyn all found the bottom of the net for Navy during that stretch. The momentum immediately swung back to Army as the Black Knights scored seven unanswered points as part of a larger 11-6 close to the quarter.

Trailing by 10, 22-12 through one quarter of action, Llewellyn immediately drew Navy back to within single digits with a corner three-pointer on the Mids’ first possession of the second period. Neither team scored for the next three-plus minutes before Army’s Reece Ericson sank a mid-range jumper at 6:07 to put the Black Knights back up nine. A quick exchange of baskets within 11 seconds of each other by Gia Pissott (Fr., Toms River, N.J.) and Ericson advanced the score to 26-17 at 4:58. Pissott was active again on the offensive glass and scoring column as a little over a minute later she grabbed the o-board and quickly bounced back up for a layup. Offense continued to be at a premium over the final three minutes as each team made just one field goal. Turnovers were the main story of the 15-point stanza as Navy forced Army into seven turnovers, while the Mids lost the ball four times.

Down 28-21 coming out of halftime, Navy immediately went down by nine as Army converted on its first time down the court. Scoreless in the first half and her team trailing by nine, Louridas ran off an individual scoring 11-3 stretch to make it 33-32 score by 6:54. The plebe scored from all three parts of the court as she made one three-pointer, two driving layups and four free throws. The one-point margin stayed as such for the next two minutes as Ericson and Llewellyn traded baskets. In a play that Coach Taylor remarked as a game-changer, Army’s Sabria Hunter fought off a Navy defender and grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up for a layup and an ‘and-one.’ A three-pointer by Sam McNaughton two possessions later put Army back up by six before Navy’s team captain Mimi Schrader fired back with a three-pointer of her own next time down. With the score 40-37 and 3:49 left in the quarter, the Black Knights caught fire and hit five of their final six shots to close the period up 52-41.

Navy continued to scrap and fight and opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back makes by Llewellyn and Sydne Watts (Jr., Canton, Ga.) to make it 54-45, 55 seconds in. A 3:29 scoreless streak by Navy impeded the Mids’ ability to get closer, while also allowing the Black Knights to slowly build up a 16-point lead, 61-45 by 5:56. Three straight points, a jumper and a free throw by Morganne Andrews (Jr., Martinsburg, W.Va.) helped get Navy’s offense back in gear momentarily and draw within 13. After the Black Knights surged ahead further, a valiant 11-4 close to the game by the Mids finished the scoring at 75-61. Louridas recorded seven points for Navy during this final stretch.

For the game, Army outshot Navy from the floor, 45.8 percent (27-59) to 39.0 (23-59) and from the foul line, 72.0 percent (18-25) to 66.7 (10-15). Three-point shooting wasn’t much of a factor in Saturday’s contest as the Mids held a marginal 31.3 percent (5-16) to 21.4 (3-14) edge.

The Black Knights held a considerable edge in rebounding as they grabbed four more o-boards, 12-8 and eight more defensive boards for a total advantage of 40-28. Hunter and Hall combined for 27 total rebounds for Army. Louridas and Andrews were the most active for Navy on the glass as Louridas tied a career-high with nine rebounds, while Andrews snagged seven.

Defensively, the Mids forced the Black Knights into a season-high 17 turnovers and were credited with a season-high seven steals. Active on passes into the post, Andrews was responsible for a career-high five thefts.

“It’s always great to come up here and compete in this game in this atmosphere,” said Taylor. “I’ve been in a lot of different rivalries in my career and this is right up there, without a doubt. This game and rivalry matters so much because you’re playing for other people. Of course, you’re playing for your team and your teammates, but it’s more than that because you’re playing for your academy, your classmates, your alumni and those serving now and who have served all over the globe. You want to give a great effort and represent the academy the right way. You’re playing for something bigger in this rivalry.

“Hats off to Army today. We’re a young team and we’ll grow up and improve from this game. We know this team is continuing to get better; we see that in practice and we see it during games, that’s why we coach them so hard right to the end. The future is going to be really bright.”

Navy will now turn its attention to a Wednesday night matchup against Bucknell. The home game at Alumni Hall will be just the Mids’ third home game of the month after already playing five on the road. Tip-off between the Mids and Bison is set for 7 p.m. 

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