ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The offense for the Navy women's basketball team shot nearly 50 percent from the field for the game while its defense held Houston Baptist to a 19-percent shooting night as the Midshipmen posted a 67-31 victory over the Huskies Friday evening at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.
The Navy vs. Houston Baptist game concluded the doubleheader of games on the opening day of the Navy Classic. The first game of the event saw George Washington tally a 54-46 victory over Maine. Saturday's slate of games has the Mids facing Maine at 3:30 p.m. followed by Houston Baptist taking on George Washington at 6 p.m. Live statistics from both games can be found at NavySports.com, while Navy All-Access subscribers can view a video feed of both games.
"I'm super happy with the game," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. "We (Pemper along with radio announcer Joe Miller) talked before the game about how young and inexperienced we were and how we were not sure if we would come out focused and intense and making good decisions with the ball. I told the players that and they responded. We came out sharp, and that allowed us to get a lot of players into the game."
Houston Baptist (0-8) held a 10-6 lead over Navy (3-3) five minutes into the game, but the Mids scored the ensuing 10 points to build a 16-10 advantage. A Jade Geif (So., Lakeville, Minn.) free throw started the run for the Mids, then Jen Penley (Jr., Pfafftown, N.C.) grabbed a defensive rebound on one end of the court and hit a jumper on the other. Alix Membreno (So., Loxahatchee, Fla.) stole the ball to quickly end the ensuing HBU possession, then was fouled. She made one of two free throws to knot the score at 10-10.
Neither team scored on their next respective trips down the court with the ball, then, after a turnover by the Huskies, Audrey Bauer (So., Lake Zurich, Ill.) hit a jumper to give Navy the lead. Chey Arvin (Jr., Noblesville, Ind.) recorded a steal five seconds after Bauer's basket and found Chantel Lavender (Jr., Trenton, N.J.) open for an easy layup to boost the margin to four points. Penley snared another defensive rebound and that led to Bauer scoring on a fastbreak to give Navy a 16-10 lead with 10:33 showing on the clock.
Navy would later close the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 31-17 lead at intermission, then blew the game open by scoring the first 10 points of the second half. Scoring the first six points for the Mids coming out of halftime was Membreno.
"I think the coaches saw a mismatch for me at the time," said Membreno of the start of the second half, "and they tried to get the ball to me. All of us were hitting, so if I was doubled I was to kick it out to someone else."
After shooting 42.4 percent from the field in the first half, Navy connected on 55.6 percent of its attempts from the floor in the second half. Meanwhile, the Mids held the Huskies to 22.6 percent shooting in the first half and 16.7 percent shooting in the second half.
The Mids, who recorded 19 assists on their 29 baskets, also held edges over the Huskies in rebounds (47-43), blocks (9-4) and steals (12-9).
Navy's offense was very balanced with 14 of the 15 players who took to the court scoring at least one field goal. Bauer and Membreno each scored nine points to lead the Navy attack. Meanwhile, Geif hauled in eight rebounds to pace the Mids on the glass. Also playing well was Lavender, who recorded seven points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals.
"I think we used a lot of the momentum from the Air Force game (a 71-59 win by the Mids Monday)," said Membreno. "We had a huge crowd that night and really fed off of that, but we knew tonight we had to do it ourselves.
"We talked a lot about this being our tournament. We wanted to get out there and show what we could do."
"Everyone who came into the game gave us good minutes," said Pemper. "We saw the floor well, moved the ball and were able to put it in the basket. Maine is going to present us with some different challenges, so we hope to bring the same mindset tomorrow that we did today."
Leading all players in scoring and rebounding was Houston Baptist's Shanice Steenholdt with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The 36-point margin of victory is the largest for the Mids since winning by that amount against Bowie State in January of 1991, is the largest since the program was elevated to the Division I level prior to the start of the 1991-92 season (previous high was a 35-point win over Lehigh in January of 1995), and bettered the previous high for a Stefanie Pemper-coached Navy team (previous high was 34 over Western Illinois in November of 2009). Additionally, Navy allowed its fewest points to an opponent on the Division I level and the fourth-fewest in school history.