Jan. 18, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- An 18-4 start to the game gave the Navy women's basketball team an early cushion over Colgate, then the Mids used a 24-2 late second-half surge to close out the Raiders, 71-40, Saturday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.
The win was Navy's seventh in a row and gave the Mids a 6-0 start to their Patriot League season (14-3 overall), while the Raiders fell to 1-5 in league play and 5-12 on the season with the loss.
The game couldn't have started any better than it did for the Mids. Navy connected on each of its first seven attempts from the floor -- including a 4-4 effort from three-point range -- and held Colgate to a 2-of-11 start from the field as the Mids jumped out to an 18-4 lead a little more than five minutes into the contest.
"I loved the way we came out of the game," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. "I thought there was great focus, our defensive intensity was great, and we were really hitting shots. People were really confident and that got us going, both the hitting shots and the defense."
The Raiders were able to close to within 11 points of the Mids at 23-12 with 10:37 left before halftime, but the Mids held Colgate without a field goal for the next eight minutes as part of a half-closing 12-5 run that gave Navy a 35-17 lead at the break.
Navy took a pair of 20-point leads -- 37-17, 39-19 -- early in the second half. Colgate responded by scoring the next seven points to winnow the margin down to 39-26 with 16:14 left to play in the game. Both teams failed to score on their next two respective possessions, then a Jade Geif (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.) jumper gave Navy a 41-26 lead. The Raiders would tally the ensuing six points to close to within single digits of the Mids at 41-32 with 12:51 showing on the clock.
Audrey Bauer (Sr., Lake Zurich, Ill.) promptly drained a three-point field goal for the Mids. Neither team scored the next time each had the ball, then the Raiders missed a trio of shots on their next possession before Geif grabbed the carom. Kara Pollinger (Sr., Fort Gay, W.Va.) hit a three-point shot on Navy's ensuing trip down the court then, after a missed shot by the Raiders, hit another triple to boost Navy's lead back to 18 points at 50-32 with 10:35 showing on the clock. About 100 seconds later, Geif scored on a layup off of a feed from Pollinger to give Navy a 52-32 advantage with 8:52 remaining in the game.
Those 11 points started a 24-2 run by the Navy, with both of Colgate's points coming on free throws, that gave the Mids a 65-34 lead with just 3:55 showing on the clock. By that time Colgate had gone over nine minutes without making a field goal, and it would go another three minutes before sinking one with 29 seconds remaining.
Navy shot 46.4 percent from the field in the game (43.3% in first half, 50.0% in the second) and held Colgate to an overall mark of 23.7 percent (20.0% and 29.2%, respectively). The Mids also drained 11 three-point field goals on the night and shot 42.3 percent (11-26) from beyond the arc, while holding the Raiders to a pair of treys in 16 attempts (12.5%).
"We did a nice job in trying to contain them in transition," said Pemper of Navy's defensive effort. "That was one of our big goals coming into tonight. They really get out and run. And to try to get out and defend the three, which we did pretty successfully. Just really happy with those two elements of defense."
Pollinger connected on all three of her second-half three-point field goal attempts and made 4 of 5 attempts from the floor in all after halftime to tally 11 of her Navy-best 16 points in the second half. Joining her in double figures for the game were Bauer, who was 4 of 6 from three-point land in scoring 14 points, and Geif, who was 5 of 9 from the field in tallying 12 points. Additionally, Alix Membreno (Sr., Loxahatchee, Fla.) contributed four points, six assists and 13 rebounds on the night.
Equally important to Navy's win was the role its bench played. Tonight's game came one week after the Mids defeated Army and three days after Navy came away with a wild 94-92 double overtime victory at Bucknell. M.L. Morrison (Sr., Southlake, Texas), who tied a career high with 15 points against the Bison, was 3 of 4 from the field in scoring eight points tonight. Her efforts were part of a 16-8 scoring advantage by the Navy reserve players against their counterparts from Colgate.
"It has been a long week for us," said Pemper. "Really emotionally draining. Colgate coming into this was just trending in the right direction. They had a big win Wednesday against Boston U. and had everyone back healthy. We are two of the top three-point shooting teams in the league, so we really felt this was the cliche game where our focus could be really challenged with Colgate coming in with a lot of confidence. For our women to really play well, and we received contributions from multiple people, I'm just really pleased.
"M.L. has some nice abilities within our offense, and we saw that tonight. I thought we got a little smarter about fouling. We did play through some foul trouble. Erin Meador (Jr., Clifton, Va.) had a really nice game, and she had to play out of position. So just some great maturity out of those players."
Colgate was led in scoring by Carole Harris, who finished the night with 19 points.
Navy will take to the road for its ensuing two games, a Wednesday night game at Lehigh followed by a Jan. 25 afternoon game at Holy Cross.