Home Winning Streak Ends for Women's Basketball
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- For the second time this season, defenses dominated the Navy and Bucknell women's basketball game that was played Wednesday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis. The Bison would emerge with a 49-40 victory over the Mids this evening, which came about a month after Bucknell defeated Navy 49-37 in Lewisburg, Pa.
The result of the tonight's game gives Bucknell (19-8, 13-3 Patriot League) sole possession of second place in the Patriot League standings as well as the tiebreaker over Navy (22-5, 12-4) with two games left in the regular season. Additionally, it was the first loss in Alumni Hall for the Mids in 16 games, a streak that had tied the school record and was tied for the eighth longest active home court winning streak in the country.
The last time Navy had lost a game at home was Feb. 25, 2017, when Bucknell won a 63-54 decision.
"We always defend them tough," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. "Other than last year's final (a 79-71 overtime win for Bucknell in the championship game of the league tournament), which we both just scored off the charts ... they don't win a lot of games scoring 49 points. Last year all three of our games were decided by single digits."
The lead changed hands several times in the opening minutes of the game before Bucknell went on an 8-0 run to take a 16-9 lead. Navy kept chipping away at the deficit and closed to within two points at 22-20 and 24-22, but a late triple by the Bison gave them a 27-22 lead at the break.
The Bison promptly started the third quarter on a 5-0 run to take a 32-22 advantage. Navy whittled the margin down to four points several times, then a Morgan Taylor (So., Evans, Ga.) triple allowed the Mids to winnow the gap down to three points at 38-35.
"Some of it was just some freelancing stuff," said Pemper on the way Navy was able to stay in the game. "Some of the stuff we talked about doing. There's probably like 10 things we want to do offensively against Bucknell, and it is not always easy for everyone to remember all of them. We just happened to do some of those things during that stretch. It felt like we didn't necessarily score coming out of a play. We executed some stuff tonight and we got some decent shots, but in that run, I don't necessarily think it was out of our plays."
The Bison answered with a field goal on their ensuing possession, which also was the last basket made of the frame, and allowed them to take a 40-35 lead into the fourth quarter.
Neither offense found any kind of rhythm in the first part of the fourth quarter. Bucknell opened the quarter on a 7-0 run, but the Bison needed nearly six minutes of clock time to score those seven points. That allowed the Bison to build a 47-35 lead with four minutes left in the game.
The teams would combine for only 14 points in the final stanza (five for Navy).
Navy shot just 28.3 percent (17-60) from the field, which included a 3-15 (20%) effort from three-point land. On the other end of the floor, Bucknell made 37 percent of its shots (20-54), which featured a 1-14 (7.1%) showing from beyond the arc. Additionally, the Bison were 8-10 from the foul line while the Mids were 3-4.
Bucknell also held a significant advantage over Navy in points scored in the paint (34-14).
"The points in the paint was a huge stat tonight for them," said Pemper. "They get us deep, and they have nice moves."
Laurel Jaunich (So., Charlotte, Vt.) was the only Mid to reach double figures as she was 5-9 from the field in scoring 10 points. Navy's leading scorers on the season, Taylor Dunham (Sr., Fort Belvoir, Va.) and Hannah Fenske (Sr., Albuquerque, N.M.), both struggled from the floor. Dunham ended the game 2-12 from the field and with five points, while Fenske missed the only field goal attempt she took.
"Kyi English really just trails Taylor all over the floor," said Pemper. "She is quick, a veteran, and knows some of the stuff we are running. That's hard (trying to) free Taylor up.
"Their (Bucknell) size and their aggressiveness, and a little bit of their scheming (on Bucknell's defensive success); in basketball we say they can speed us up offensively. We don't take open shots with the same type of rhythm that we take against other teams. I just think their defensive scheme, their aggressiveness and their size, particularly on Taylor, just got us a little sped up in the first half. And you saw that with our nine turnovers."
The Bucknell trio of Ellie Mack (13), Kaitlyn Slagus (12) and Kate Walker (11) combined for 36 of Bucknell's 49 points.
Navy will play its final road game of the regular season Saturday when the Mids face Loyola at 3 p.m. in Baltimore.