Offense Finds its Gear for Women's Basketball in Win
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The offense for the Navy women's basketball awoke from its recent slumber to post a 76-49 victory over American Wednesday night at Alumni Hall in the regular season finale for both teams. The Mids (23-6, 13-5 Patriot League), who had scored 40 points in each of their last two games, erupted for 40 points in the first half tonight against the Eagles (23-6, 16-2).
"Who knows what would have happened if their (American) top two players played, but it was just nice to get back on track and see the ball go in the basket," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper, whose Mids are now 15-1 in her 10-year career when entering a game on a two-game league losing streak. "We wanted this, obviously, even though it didn't mean anything (in the standings). We wanted to play with pride on our home court and have no regrets."
Navy, which is one win shy of tying the school record for the most wins in a season (24, 2014 and 2017), earned the No. 3 seed in the Patriot League Tournament and will play host to No. 6 Loyola Monday at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinal round of the event. American, which dropped its second game in a row after starting league play with 16 wins in 16 games, garnered the top seed in the tournament and also will be home Monday. The Eagles will face the winner of Saturday's No. 10 Colgate at No. 7 Holy Cross first round game.
The Mids went on a 7-0 run in the middle of the first quarter to take a 15-7 lead. Navy then had an 8-0 spurt early in the second quarter to build a 29-12 cushion and proceeded to close the stanza on a 9-0 run to head into halftime with a 40-19 lead.
Navy was 10-15 (66.7%) from the field in second quarter and held American to a 2-11 (18.2%) effort in the same frame.
Taylor Dunham (Sr., Fort Belvoir, Va.) was right in the middle of the scoring outburst at the start of the game. She accounted for six of the team's first eight points on a pair of three-point field goals and added another triple before the end of the opening quarter. She totaled 14 points on 4-5 shooting from three-point range and 5-7 shooting from the field in all in the first half.
"It felt good," said Dunham on the way Navy won tonight. "The main thing was for us to just see the ball go through the basket. We have had a few struggles on the offensive end, and I think tonight it was good for the whole team."
The Mids salted the game away with a 7-0 run to start the third quarter that gave them a 47-19 advantage. Navy led by as many as 32 points in the second half to win its final home game of the regular season for the 14th-straight year.
Dunham connected on three more three-point field goals in the second half, giving her seven for the game and 88 for the season. That latter total allowed her to break the school record for most treys made in a year. She bettered the tally of 87 set by Kara Pollinger in her senior season of 2013-14.
"That's really crazy," said Dunham, who also ranks second in Navy history with 231 career triples (245, Courtney Davidson, 2001-04). "It is just part of the dream I have had since growing up and wanting to play college basketball."
Dunham, who also contributed six assists, wasn't the only Mid to find her range. Bianca Roach (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) scored 13 points, Morgan Taylor (So., Evans, Ga.) scored 11 points in 13 minutes and Hannah Fenske (Sr., Albuquerque, N.M.) accrued 11 points, a career-high 10 rebounds and a career-high tying eight assists. And while Fenske neared recording the second triple-double in Navy history, Kaila Clark (So., Hughesville, Md.) just missed a double-double as she finished with 11 rebounds and eight points.
"I'm happier for Hannah's performance than my own," said Dunham. "She has been working so hard to get back to where she was and I think tonight it was opening the gate for her again."
"Taylor obviously was terrific," said Pemper. "We need those two players (Dunham and Fenske) to play well this time of year. Not just them, but we do need those two (to play well)."
Navy as a team made 13 triples on 30 attempts (43.3%) and shot 47 percent from the field overall. Defensively, the Mids limited the Eagles to 32.2 percent shooting and though they make seven treys, American needed 22 attempts (31.8%) to do so.
Navy also held advantages over American in rebounds (46-30), points scored in the paint (36-16), second chance points (15-5) and fastbreak points (17-2).
Patriot League Tournament Bracket
First Round - Saturday, March 3
No. 10 Colgate (3-15) at No. 7 Holy Cross (7-11)
No. 9 Boston U. (5-13) at No. 8 Lafayette (6-12)
Quarterfinals - Monday, March 5
Colgate or Holy Cross at No. 2 Bucknell (15-3)
No. 6 Loyola (7-11) at No. 3 Navy (13-5)
No. 5 Army (9-9) at No. 4 Lehigh (9-9)
Boston U. or Lafayette at No. 1 American (16-2)
Semifinals - Thursday, March 8
Loyola/Navy vs. Colgate or Holy Cross / Bucknell (game at highest seeded team)
Army/Lehigh vs. Boston U. or Lafayette / American (game at highest seeded team)
Final - Sunday, March 11
Semifinal winners (game at highest seeded team)