Rally Sends Mids Past Greyhounds and into Semifinal Round
March 5, 2018
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Taylor Dunham's (Sr., Fort Belvoir, Va.) play on both ends of the court in the fourth quarter sparked a game-closing 21-8 run that surged the Navy women's basketball team to a 63-55 victory over Loyola Monday night in a Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal round game played at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.
The win by the third-seeded Mids (24-6) over the No. 6 Greyhounds (9-21) sends Navy into a Thursday night semifinal round game at No. 2 Bucknell. That game will tip at 6 p.m. from Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg, Pa.
"I'm really proud of the way we won tonight with having to come from behind," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. "We have been front runners during the league season. If we give up the lead, we haven't been able to get it back. But tonight we did. It was a hard-fought game."
Loyola slowed down Navy's offense when the teams met nine days ago in Baltimore. The Mids were held to just 17 first-half points and 40 points for the game in an 18-point loss to the Greyhounds. Navy matched its first-half production from that day in the first quarter tonight as the Mids -- who at one point held a 13-4 lead -- took a 17-10 advantage through the opening 10 minutes of the game.
The cushion for the Mids would soon be 22-17 until the Greyhounds ran off the next eight points to take a 23-22 lead. Navy would go into halftime clinging to a 25-24 lead.
"I thought we were getting better shots today than we did the last time we played Loyola," said Pemper. "They just weren't falling. But we stuck with it."
The Mids shot just 2-14 (14.3%) from three-point range in the first half. Navy's opening two baskets of the third quarter were triples, which boosted it out to an early 31-24 lead less than two minutes into the second half.
Navy's lead was again seven points at 33-26 when Loyola rattled off the next seven points to tie the score at the midpoint of the third quarter. Another 6-0 run gave the Mids some breathing room before they entered the final stanza with a 39-37 lead.
Loyola had tallied the final four points of the third quarter, then opened the fourth quarter on a 10-3 run to build a 47-42 lead with 7:33 left on the clock. Navy's lone basket in that span was a triple by Dunham. That trey surpassed her point total for the first 30 minutes of the game as she was 1-10 from the field, including a 0-7 effort from three-point range, through three quarters of play.
"I was talking with the Superintendent at halftime," said Pemper. "I said she (Dunham) can't end her career at home shooting the way she was in the first half."
Laurel Jaunich (So., Charlotte, Vt.) scored on Navy's next possession after the Greyhounds had taken the five-point lead, then a short while later Dunham grabbed a defensive rebound on one end of the court before Jaunich scored on a breakaway following a great pass from Bianca Roach (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) on the other end. Dunham then stole the ball to halt Loyola's next possession and shortly thereafter drained a triple on Navy's following trip down the court. That gave the Mids a 49-47 lead and resulted in a timeout by the Greyhounds.
Loyola was one shot and done after the stoppage in play, which was followed by Dunham connecting on her third three-point shot of the quarter on the other end to make the score 52-47. The Mids would add another basket from Jaunich and a pair of free throws from Sophie Gatzounas (Fr., South Hadley, Mass.) over the next 90 seconds to increase their run to 14-straight points and their overall advantage out to 56-47 with just under three minutes remaining.
Loyola quickly scored the next five points -- 56-52, 1:40 left -- but Navy was 5-8 from the foul line with another Gatzounas field goal included in the mix to salt away the win.
Dunham tallied 11 fourth quarter points on 3-7 shooting from the field -- all from beyond the arc -- and a 2-4 effort from the foul line in the frame. That helped the Mids shoot 53.8 percent (7-13) from the field in the last 10 minutes of the game.
Conversely, Loyola was 7-19 (36.8%) from the floor in the fourth quarter.
"I'm so happy with our zone," said Pemper. "Credit to Loyola; they were getting good at going against our man defense. Not that our zone was perfect by any means, but it gave them something else to deal with. Our zone was the key tonight."
Dunham paced the Mids with not only 13 points, but also with five assists. She additionally contributed five boards. Joining her in double figures were Hannah Fenske (Sr., Albuquerque, N.M.) with 11 points, Jaunich with 10 points and Kaila Clark (So., Hughesville, Md.) with 10 points to go along with seven rebounds. Also for the Mids, Roach totaled eight points and four assists and Morgan Taylor (So., Evans, Ga.) posted seven points and an equal number of rebounds.
Both teams shot nearly equal percentages for the game. Navy finished with a 38.3 percent effort and Loyola made 35.6 percent of its shots. However, the Mids made two more field goals as a whole (23-21) and one more triple (7-6) while also shooting 10-16 from the foul line to Loyola's 7-8.
Navy has now advanced to the semifinal round for the ninth time in Pemper's 10 seasons. American stands second in the league with seven semifinal appearances (including this season) over the last decade.
Navy also tied the school record for the most victories in a season with its win tonight. The Mids previously won 24 games during the 2013-14 and 2016-17 campaigns.
Additionally, Navy as a program has now won more quarterfinal round games than other any school in the league (16, one more than Holy Cross).
Patriot League Tournament Results - Quarterfinal Round
#1 American 55, #8 Lafayette 35 (at American)
#5 Army 62, #4 Lehigh 60/OT (at Lehigh)
#3 Navy 63, #6 Loyola 55 (at Navy)
#2 Bucknell 67, #7 Holy Cross 53 (at Bucknell)
Patriot League Tournament Schedule
Semifinal Round -- Thursday, March 8
#5 Army at #1 American
#3 Navy at #2 Bucknell
Championship Game - Sunday, March 11