Women's Basketball Earns Star
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The triumvirate of Taylor Dunham (Sr., Fort Belvoir, Va.), Hannah Fenske (Sr., Albuquerque, N.M.) and Sophie Gatzounas (Fr., South Hadley, Mass.) combined to score 26 of the Navy women's basketball team's 30 second half points to help the Mids slowly pull away from Army for a 55-46 victory Saturday afternoon at Christl Arena in West Point, N.Y. The victory by the Mids (20-4, 10-3 Patriot League) over the Black Knights (12-12, 5-8) came in the annual Star Game, presented by USAA, between the programs.
Navy has now defeated Army in each of the last five games, the team's longest winning streak in the series since it won nine in a row from 1996-99, and has won the Star Game in back-to-back years for the first time since 2009-10.
"Really excited about the win," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper, who has guided the Mids to back-to-back seasons with at least 20 wins and to five 20-win campaigns in her 10 years on The Yard. "No matter how ugly a Star Game win is, it is still a win."
Defenses dominated the first 20 minutes of play. The largest lead for both teams was just four points in the first half, which ended with Navy holding a 25-23 advantage on a basket by Gatzounas just before the buzzer sounded. The Mids made 12 field goals and shot 39 percent from the floor while the Black Knights made eight field goals and shot 28 percent. Army, however, made a pair of three-point field goals and was 5-6 from the foul line while Navy was 0-5 from beyond the arc and just 1-4 from the charity stripe.
"I thought the first half was a little bit of Army's tempo," said Pemper. "Credit to their defense. They certainly kept us off the three-point line in the first half. At halftime we had a score in the 20s, which is what we had the other night and is not what we want."
Army tied the game on its first possession of the second half, but soon thereafter Fenske fed Dunham for a layup and Fenske drilled Navy's first three-point field goal of the game on the team's ensuing possession to stretch the lead out to 30-25.
The margin dipped down to one point at 30-29, but Navy closed the quarter on a 9-2 run to go into the final stanza with a 39-21 advantage. Dunham scored five of those nine points and Fenske scored the other four.
Gatzounas connected on a three-point shot early in the fourth quarter to extend Navy's lead to double digits for the first time at 44-34. She would also account for four of the team's next six points to boost the cushion out to 48-36 with a little more than seven minutes remaining.
Army winnowed the gap down to eight points at 52-44 with 2:22 still to play, but it soon returned to a 10-point game at 54-44 with 42 seconds left on the clock.
"Our players made some good reads (in the second half), found a way to find some shooters and knock down some big shots," said Pemper.
Navy shot 60 percent from the field in the third quarter and 50 percent in the fourth quarter. On the other end of the floor, Army made just 20 percent of its third quarter attempts and 35.3 percent of its fourth quarter shots. Additionally, Navy made a trio of three-point field goals in the second half and didn't allow Army to make a triple after halftime.
While Navy was just 3-13 (23.1%) from three-point range in the game, the Mids were 21-40 (52.5%) in their two-point field goal attempts.
Army held a 43-40 advantage on the glass, including a 19-9 edge in offensive boards. That helped the Black Knights to a 10-2 edge in second chance points.
Dunham paced the Mids with 18 points, four assists and four steals, and snared six boards to tie for second on the squad. She scored 12 of her points after halftime. Gatzounas totaled seven second half points and 11 points in all, while Fenske added seven second half points and nine points for the game to her team-best nine rebounds.
"Taylor was obviously terrific," said Pemper. "Just had really good composure. Sophie was a big boost off the bench. Hannah came through with some really smart plays, certainly in the third quarter."
Army was led by Madison Hovren with 20 points and 16 rebounds.
"We threw a lot of different people at her," said Pemper on Hovren, who was 7-18 from the field and 7-8 from the foul line. "We had three different freshmen on her at different times."
Navy will next play Wednesday at Lafayette.