ANNAPOLIS, Md. – In a commanding display of skill and teamwork, the Navy women’s basketball team kicked off its 2023-24 season with a resounding 78-37 victory over Susquehanna on Wednesday night at Alumni Hall. The Mids (1-0) showcased their commitment to a youth movement, with contributions from all 13 players who hit the court, including an impressive performance from 10 underclassmen.

The freshmen starting backcourt duo of Zanai Barnett-Gay from Glenn Dale, Md., and Kyah Smith from Richmond, Va., led the charge, combining for 29 points, 17 rebounds, eight steals, and six assists. Barnett-Gay, in her collegiate debut, recorded a double-double with game-highs of 18 points, 11 rebounds, and five steals, while Smith added 11 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Sydne Watts, a senior from Canton, Ga., contributed with 12 points, five rebounds, and a block, representing Navy’s experienced players.

Head coach Tim Taylor expressed pride in his team’s performance, stating, “We competed for 40 minutes and didn’t take a possession off, I’m proud of that.” Despite acknowledging mistakes and less-than-ideal shooting, Taylor commended the team’s effort, emphasizing the positive aspects that excite him for the future.

The game’s momentum swung in Navy’s favor in the second quarter, highlighted by an impressive 19-3 run, giving them a comfortable 35-16 lead at halftime. The third quarter saw the Mids extend their lead to 55-28, with Barnett-Gay leading the charge. Navy’s depth became the focal point in the fourth quarter, with eight different players contributing points and securing a final score of 78-37.

In terms of statistics, Navy dominated Susquehanna in shooting percentages, with a 41.9 percent field goal accuracy compared to Susquehanna’s 24.0 percent. The Mids also outperformed from beyond the arc, hitting 37.5 percent of three-pointers, while Susquehanna managed only 11.8 percent. Rebounding was a key strength for Navy, with a commanding 56-32 advantage on the boards.

Coach Taylor highlighted the team’s depth, stating, “We’re a much deeper team this year,” and expressed optimism about building consistency as the season progresses. With 10 out of the 13 players being freshmen or sophomores, Taylor sees every game as a building block for improvement.

Navy’s next challenge comes quickly as they face Penn State on Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center at 5 p.m. The matchup is part of a women’s and men’s doubleheader, offering the Mids another opportunity to showcase their talent and build on their promising start to the season.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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