Mids Rout Bonnies to Earn Navy Classic Crown
ANNAPOLIS, Md. ---- The Navy women's basketball team never trailed St. Bonaventure and led by at least 20 points over the final 21 minutes of an 86-48 victory Sunday afternoon at Alumni Hall in Annapolis. The win by the Mids (6-0) over the Bonnies (4-3) came in the championship game of the Navy Classic. Navy is now off to a 6-0 start to a season for the first time since beginning the 1996-97 campaign with an 8-0 record.
"We have just really come to play every night," said Pemper, who with today's win tied Dave Smalley for the most by a Navy women's basketball head coach (178). "Our Air Force game was the one game I think we weren't really great out of the gate and for four quarters. It started off with that trip to Marist, a perennial NCAA Tournament team, we had never played up that, and just pulled out a really big win. That just got us going and gave us some confidence post Sarita Condie, Justice Swett and Ashanti Kennedy and the great season we had last year, and what could this team look like. We look pretty similar and are having some similar success. I think just taking every game, focused on the game plan and our staff doing a good job with the scouts."
Navy opened the scoring in the game with a three-point basket by Hannah Fenske (Sr., Albuquerque, N.M.) less than 70 seconds after the opening tip. That would be the first of three-straight possession in which the Mids scored ---- Sophie Gatzounas (Fr., South Hadley, Mass.) followed by making a trio of free throws then scored on a drive to the basket ---- to take an 8-0 lead. The Bonnies would sink a pair of free throws, but the Mids ran off the next seven points to jump out to a 15-2 before the visitors made their first field goal of the game.
Navy's lead would grow to 19-7 at the end of the first quarter and 24-7 early in the second frame. That margin soon shrunk slightly to 10 points at both 24-14 and 26-16. The Mids responded with an 11-0 run to build a 37-16 lead with 90 seconds remaining in the first half, then extended the advantage out to 42-19 at intermission.
Helping Navy out to the first half cushion was Morgan Taylor (So., Evans, Ga.), who was 5-6 from the floor in scoring 14 first-half points.
The Mids salted the game away when a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter gave them a 55-23 advantage.
Navy doubled up the number of field goals made by St. Bonaventure ---- 31-14 ---- and made a season-high 13 three-point field goals while limiting the Bonnies to six triples. The Mids also shot the ball nearly twice as successfully as the Bonnies did ---- 49.2%-25.5%.
Navy held additional statistical advantages over St. Bonaventure in rebounds (43-33), turnovers forced (22-17) and steals (13-8).
"We capitalized on them (SBU) not having a lot of depth today," said Pemper. "I think for whatever reason they only had nine players in uniform and we played 11 or 12 decent minutes. They play a lot like us; they were averaging more threes and a better percentage than us. We got the better of them in this game.
"We did want to control tempo today. We wanted to run on them. We thought our depth could be effective in transition. We wanted to run, but we wanted to make good decisions. I thought we did that."
Taylor would finish the game connecting on 9-11 attempts from the field, which included a 3-3 effort from three-point land, as well as 3-4 foul shots to tally a game-high and career-best 24 points. That, along with the 17 points she scored Saturday against North Dakota State, earned her the Navy Classic MVP award.
"I think the confidence from my teammates is what keeps driving me," said Taylor. "I definitely put in a lot of work (on her shot) in the offseason. I wanted to be ready to step on the floor, so I put in a lot of work."
"We saw good shooting (from Taylor) this weekend, including three-point shooting," said Pemper as to the biggest difference in her game from last year. "That isn't something she did a lot last year. Just attacking the basket and intelligent play. It is important for her to be good defensively. She was great this weekend at that. She just played a really complete game today and yesterday."
Joining Taylor on the all-tournament team was Kaila Clark (So., Hughesville, Md.), who tallied nine points and eight rebounds against the Bonnies one day after recording 17 rebounds, eight points and seven blocks against the Bison.
Taylor Dunham (Sr., Fort Belvoir, Va.) was the lone other Mid to reach double figures in points as she totaled 12 in the game. That included her sinking four three-point field goals for the second day in a row.
In all, 12 Mids took to the court, 10 of them scored and six recorded at least seven points. Aiding that scoring success was a career-high eight assists from Molly Sanders (Jr., Ames, Iowa).
Navy will be back in Alumni Hall Thursday when it plays host to Monmouth at 7 p.m.