ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy women's basketball team went on four sizeable runs of points against Marshall and held a double-digit lead over the Thundering Herd for the last 12 minutes of a 67-51 win by the Mids Sunday at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.
"It can be hard to come back after a lengthy break as we had (today was the first game for the Mids in 11 days)," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper, "but we have done some more scrimmaging and running than we typically do, so I was not surprised by what we did tonight."
"We were really excited to come back after a few days off for the break and have a game, especially at home," said Audrey Bauer (Jr., Lake Zurich, Ill.), who recorded the first double-double of her career today. "We've had a lot of practices and worked on a lot of things, so it was nice to see that pay off in a game."
The opening four minutes of the game saw the lead change hands seven times. Marshall connected on 5 of its first 8 attempts from the floor, including a 3-of-5 effort from three-point range, in building a 15-11 lead over Navy (7-6) just 5:30 into the game. The Mids also shot the ball well during this opening stretch as they made 5 of their first 7 shots from the field.
Navy would score 21 of the next 24 points over the next 10 minutes to build a 32-18 lead with 4:37 left in the half. West Virginia native Kara Pollinger (Jr., Fort Gay, W.Va.) started the sprint by the Mids with a three-point field goal. Both teams failed to score on their next respective possession, then another miss by the Thundering Herd was followed by Pollinger scoring on a layup that gave Navy a 16-15 advantage. Marshall missed its next field goal attempt, with Erin Meador (So., Clifton, Va.) hitting a jumper on the other end of the floor. A fourth consecutive missed shot by the Herd ensued, with M.L. Morrison (Jr., Southlake, Texas) making one of two free throw attempts on the next Navy trip down the floor. Marshall again missed another shot, with Meador immediately drilling a three-point attempt that gave the Mids a 22-15 advantage.
The Thundering Herd would soon end a five-minute scoring drought with a three-point field goal by Orlandria Williams that sliced the Navy lead down to 10 points at 22-18 with 9:25 left in the half. But the Mids ran off the next 10 points to build a 32-18 lead with 4:37 showing on the clock.
Navy made 7 of its 12 shots from the field and 4 of its 6 free throw attempts during its 21-3 run. Conversely, Marshall misfired on 12 of its 13 field goal attempts during this span. Making things more difficult for the Herd was Navy being able to limit Marshall to just two offensive caroms over the 10 minutes of play.
Marshall closed to as few as eight points at 34-26 with just over two minutes remaining in the half before Navy connected on one more field goal to enter the locker rooms with a 36-26 cushion.
Navy shot 58.3 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes of play, while holding Marshall to an overall mark in the half of 33.3 percent. This included a 4-of-19 (21%) effort by the Herd in the final 14:30 of the frame.
The Mids then held a pair of 11-point cushions in the early part of the second half, but the Thundering Herd went on a 5-0 run to winnow the margin down to 42-36 with 14:44 left in the game. Navy responded by scoring the next nine points to jump out to a 51-36 lead with 10:15 remaining on the clock.
Marshall actually had a chance to cut further into its deficit before Navy started its 9-0 run. A Navy turnover was followed by a missed layup by Norrisha Victrum. On the other end of the floor, Morrison drilled a jumper to ignite the run by the Mids. Chloe Stapleton (So., Cary, N.C.), who assisted on Morrison's made field goal attempt, promptly stole the ball to give possession back to the Mids. Alix Membreno (Jr., Loxahatchee, Fla.) was then fouled while in the act of shooting. She would make one of her two free throw attempts to give Navy a 45-36 lead. Another Marshall turnover was followed by Geif hitting a jumper for the Mids. Geif then notched a steal, grabbed the offensive carom after a missed shot by Membreno and assisted on a Meador layup that boosted the Navy lead out to 49-36. Marshall proceeded to commit turnovers on each of its next two times down the court -- giving the Herd turnovers on five consecutive offensive possessions without a field goal attempt -- with Geif making a pair of free throw attempts after the latter of the two turnovers to extend the Navy lead out to 51-36.
The Herd would find its form and score the next five points, but that was followed by another 7-0 run by Navy that took the lead out to 19 points at 58-39 with just under six minutes left to play in the game.
Navy went on scoring runs of 11-0, 10-0, 9-0 and 7-0 during the course of the game.
The Mids shot 52.1 percent from the floor on the afternoon. This included a 20-of-33 (60.6%) effort in their two-point shooting and a 5-of-15 (33.3%) performance from three-point land. On the other end of the floor, Navy held the Herd to 35.3 percent shooting from the field and a 31.6 percent showing from outside of the three-point arc.
After Marshall began the game by connecting on 5 of its first 8 (62.5%) attempts from the floor and 3 of its first 5 (60.0%) three-point attempts, the Herd was just 13 of 43 (30.2%) from the field and 3 of 14 (21.4%) from three-point land over the remainder of the game. Additionally, Marshall scored 36 points in the final 34:30 of the game after scoring 15 in the first 5:30 of the afternoon.
"I'm thrilled (with our defensive today)" said Pemper. "We don't play zone and I wanted to stick with it, and Marshall doesn't do well, usually, against a zone which is why we did it. But they came out shooting so hot I was thinking, `What is going on?' We just stuck with it and midway through the first half they started playing against the zone as they have done in the past. In the second half, we were going to get more active hands and the question was whether they were going to just drive to the basket as we had a hard time stopping their penetration."
Besides the shooting percentages, Navy also held advantages over Marshall in rebounds (34-29), steals (10-4) and points scored in the paint (28-16).
Individually, Bauer tied a career high with 18 points and set a career high with 12 rebounds (previous career-best showing was 11 boards) to lead the Mids in both categories.
"Defensive rebounds are always a point of emphasis for us," said Bauer, "but it was a stronger emphasis for us today because we played zone and we don't play that as often so we had to focus on finding someone and boxing out.
"In different situations, the team asks me to do different things. I'm more than happy to do just that."
"Audrey was great today," said Pemper. "She has been solid for us everyday in practice the last couple of weeks. She has been by far our most solid, confident, poised, purposeful player in every practice, so you hope as a coach she does have the numbers she had tonight. I'm thrilled for her."
Geif joined Bauer in double figures as she made 5 of her 8 attempts from the foul line in scoring 15 points to go along with 5 rebounds. Additionally, Meador set a career high in points for the second-consecutive game as she made all three of her field goal attempts to finish with nine points. Meador also tied a career high with seven rebounds.
Erica Woods and Victrum both scored 11 points for Marshall.
Navy will take to the road for a pair of games to closeout its pre-Patriot League slate of games. The Mids will first play Jan. 4 at Richmond before playing Jan. 8 at Princeton.
"We haven't been able to get into any kind of great stride yet this year, when you look at our win-loss record," said Pemper. "So this is a good result and hopefully the players get some confidence from it. But even tonight we could have played better. We have to play better."