ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Field goals on five of its last six possessions of the game provided enough of a cushion for the Navy women's basketball team to hold off a late rally by Colgate and post a 61-52 victory over the Raiders Saturday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md.
Navy's (10-9, 3-2 Patriot League), which had been held to less than 45 points in two of its last three games, erupted for 39 first-half points tonight against Colgate (4-16, 1-4 Patriot League). The lead changed hands 10 times in the opening nine minutes of the game, with the last exchange of the lead occurring when Chloe Stapleton (Fr., Cary, N.C.) drilled a three-point field goal to give Navy a 16-14 lead. That triple triggered an 18-2 run by the Mids that opened up a 31-16 advantage for Navy. The Mids would soon go into halftime holding a 39-23 advantage.
Navy connected on 7-of-10 shots from the field during its 18-2 run while holding Colgate to a 1-of-8 effort from the floor. The Mids made 6-of-12 three-point field goals and shot 48.4 percent from the field during the entire first half. Carrying much of the offensive load for the Mids was Alix Membreno (So., Loxahatchee, Fla.), who was 5-of-7 from the field and scored 13 first-half points. Defensively, the Mids held the Raiders to 39.3 percent shooting, which included misses on all six of the three-point field goal attempts they took. Navy also grabbed seven offensive caroms while limiting Colgate to just one second-chance opportunity in the frame. In all, Navy held a 23-10 advantage over Colgate on the glass during the opening 20 minutes of play.
"We had a tough loss earlier this week," said Membreno, of Navy's 49-44 loss to American on Wednesday. "We felt we had played hard then, and we really wanted to bring that same intensity to tonight's game."
"I thought we came out really sharp and focused," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper, "and Colgate wasn't really `on' at the start. They didn't shoot it well and we were able to get a ton of defensive rebounds."
The second half would be a different story. After turning the ball over five times in the entire first half, the Mids committed five turnovers in the opening five minutes of play in the second half. Navy's 16-point lead was whittled down to single digits when a jumper from Missy Repoli made the score 41-33 with 11:29 left to play in the game. It took all of six seconds for the lead to go back to double figures when Membreno scored on a layup. Membreno immediately grabbed a defensive rebound on the other end of the floor, then immediately scored on another layup to give Navy a 45-33 lead with 10:53 showing on the clock.
The lead remained in the low double figures for the next several minutes. A free throw by Erin Edwards (Sr., Hockessin, Del.) boosted it to 12 points -- 51-39 -- with 5:32 left to play, but then Colgate made another run at the Mids. Tricia Oakes scored on a layup with 4:28 remaining to cut the margin down to 10 points, then blocked Membreno's field goal attempt on the Navy end of the floor. Oakes herself scored on a basket while being fouled to slice the margin to eight points. She would miss the free throw attempt, but the loose carom was knocked out of bounds by the Mids to allow Colgate to maintain possession. The Raiders took advantage of the opportunity as a jumper by Kelly Korkowski brought Colgate to within six points -- 51-45 -- with four minutes left on the clock.
Edwards promptly hit a jumper for the Mids to make it an eight-point game. Korkowski missed an inside shot on Colgate's ensuing possession, with Membreno gathering in the carom. Jade Geif (So., Lakeville, Minn.) then connected on a jumper to increase Navy's lead to 10 points with 2:42 remaining in the game. Both teams turned the ball over on their ensuing respective possessions, then Jhazmine Lynch scored a basket for the Raiders to make the score 55-47 with just under two minutes remaining on the clock. Navy answered on the other end of the floor when Geif scored on a layup.
Colgate quickly scored again when Mariah Jones connected on a field goal, but Navy once again responded with a Edwards field goal as the game clock reached the one-minute mark. A Colgate missed shot was followed by a layup from Geif to give Navy a 61-49 lead with 15 seconds left in the game.
"The second half was very different than the first," said Pemper. "Colgate had so much more intensity, and it really affected us.
"We just don't have everyone `going;' We have to keep improving. But I am really happy with the result."
Navy's late hot streak allowed its shooting numbers to improve to 45.5 percent for the full second half of play. However, prior to its game-closing 5-of-6 stretch, the Mids were 5-of-16 (31.3%) from the field in the first 16 minutes of the frame. Navy also was 0-of-4 from three-point land, missed 7-of-9 free throw attempts and committed 10 turnovers in the opening 16 minutes of the second half.
"Our first half shooting was off the chart," said Pemper. "We had a ton of assists, very few turnovers; the effort was awesome. In the second half we didn't hit as many shots and I think we got down. We just have to be more consistent."
The Oakes field goal with 4:28 remaining also started an effective offensive stretch for Colgate. The Raiders were 6-of-8 from the field in the final 4:28 of the game (7-of-23 in the second half to that point in time), which allowed them to shoot 41.9 percent from the field in the second half.
Membreno ended the game connecting on 8-of-11 field goal attempts, made the lone three-point attempt she took and made two of her three free throw attempts to tally 19 points on the night. She also added eight rebounds, five assists and two steals to the Navy effort. Joining her in double figures was Geif, who accrued 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Oakes matched Membreno's shooting effort from the field to record a Colgate-best 17 points in just 19 minutes of playing time.
Navy will be back in Alumni Hall Wednesday night when the Mids play host to Lehigh in a 7 p.m. game.