The Navy women’s basketball team had an up-and-down performance on Wednesday night in its road contest at Bucknell. Combining to score 39 points over the second and fourth quarters, a slow four-point first quarter left the Mids (1-22, 1-11 PL) in a deep deficit that would leave them chasing the Bison (10-13, 6-6 PL) even with its efficient even-numbered quarters. On the overall strength of 51.0 percent shooting and a 22-point advantage in points in the paint, Bucknell was victorious 70-49 over Navy at Sojka Pavilion.

Individually, Sydne Watts (Jr., Canton, Ga.) led the Mids with a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds over 28 minutes of action. Lindsay Llewellyn (Sr., North East, Md.) and Maren Louridas (Fr., Delmar, N.Y.) nearly joined Watts in double figures as they both finished with nine points, respectively. Morganne Andrews (Jr., Martinsburg, W.Va.) had a well-rounded line with eight points and five rebounds.

“I thought tonight was one of our better offensive games; we moved the ball well, we cut well, but we just couldn’t make a shot,” remarked head coach Tim Taylor. “We had easy shots, that we were just halfway down and rimming out. You can’t control that. We executed what we wanted to do really well. Defensively, we gave up that big run to start, but then we settled in cutting it to six in the second and then to 14 with four minutes to go. Unfortunately, at the end we just couldn’t get a stop when we needed to. We’re just so young and it shows on the defensive end. We allowed way too many easy buckets and trips to the foul line.

“Cecelia Collins and Emma Shaffer were really good tonight. Getting Collins back has really sparked Bucknell and they’re playing well. Defensively, they’re one of the top teams in our league.”

The game opened with a predominantly Bucknell feel to it as the host Bison jumped out to an 11-2 lead by the midway point of the first quarter. Bucknell rounded out that initial run with a 15-2 edge before Watts entered her name in the box score with a pull-up jumper at 3:41. Two more baskets by the Bison closed out the period at 19-4.

Down, but not out, the Mids came out in the second quarter and immediately made it interesting with successful three-pointers on each of their first two possessions, the first by Louridas and the second by Llewellyn. With the score 19-10, Navy continued its comeback and drew within six at 21-15 at the 6:02 courtesy of two more Louridas field goals and a single free throw by Watts. Bucknell didn’t allow the visitors to get any closer as it quickly responded with a 10-2 run over the next three minutes. The final three minutes of action saw plenty of offensive fireworks as both teams added eight points to their respective totals. Watts single-handedly did all of the heavy lifting for the Mids with two three-pointers and third mid-range jumper.

Coming off of a 21-point second quarter, Navy was unable to re-kindle that deft scoring touch in the third quarter as Bucknell netted the first eight points of the stanza to break out to a 47-25 lead by 7:09. After a Watts basket at 6:50 and a Collins rebuttal at 6:27 for the Bison, strong defense was the key to the period as both sides recorded just one made field goal to go along with two free throws over the remainder of the quarter to make it a 53-31 game through 30 minutes of action.

Similar to the second quarter, the three-point shot sparked Navy early as Llewellyn found Sam Schofield (Jr., Maumee, Ohio) on the wing for a trey nine seconds into the fourth period. That basket invigorated the Mids as they scored nine of the next 13 points on four-of-five shooting to cut their deficit to 14. Llewellyn was a leading catalyst during that run with two field goals. With the score 57-43 at 5:14, Bucknell was able to re-engage its offense down the stretch and closed out the game on a 13-6 run to secure the 70-49 win.

For the game, Bucknell outshot Navy, 51.0 percent (26-51) to 29.7 (19-64) from the field and 80.0 percent (16-20) to 75.0 (6-8) from the foul line. The Mids held the edge in three-point shooting, 35.7 percent (5-14) to 14.3 (2-14).

The rebounding battle was nearly even with the Bison grabbing just one more board, 36-35.  The Mids won the offensive rebounding contest, 10-4 as three different players recorded multiple o-boards. Watts led Navy’s cause with a game-high nine rebounds.

“We’re an enigma,” said Taylor in closing. “You look at us at times; we had 39 points in two quarters and then we can’t throw it in the ocean. Defensively, we gave up another double-digit run because we can’t get stops when we need them. It’s the highs-and-lows. I know that comes with youth, but you’re hoping to see the highs sustained a little more. I thought we competed well throughout the game, minus the last three minutes. I thought we could’ve finished out a little stronger. We were off on some of our rotations. I was pleased with our offense; I don’t think they ever sped us up; we made the right plays. We only had 11 turnovers and two were offensive fouls. I thought we competed well on the glass; we had 13 more shots than them. The one thing we don’t do well is defend without fouling. We challenged way too many shots around the rim. Giving up 20 free throws a game is killer. We fixed the turnovers tonight, now we have to fix our foul problem.”

Navy will now turn its attention to the 2023 Star Game versus Army on Saturday. The service academy showdown tips off at 11 a.m. at Alumni Hall and will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.

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