Young Mids give Quakers all they can handle
With six seconds to go, Kolbi Green fired yet another 3-pointer. It was too late, true. The cavern between Penn and Navy was just too wide with nine seconds remaining.
But she’d hurled some last-minute firepower at a team likely bound for the NCAA tournament, and that was something for the Mids to hold on to.
“Today, we showed up. We fought back,” said sophomore Sophie Gatzounas. “We brought energy we hadn’t brought before.”
The youth-heavy Mids (1-3) hounded Penn from first quarter to last, but fell 65-61 in the first game of the Navy Classic at Alumni Hall. After a defiant first-game victory, Navy has lost three-straight — but learned something from each defeat.
“I think today we finally created an identity for ourselves,” Gatzounas said. “We’ve gotten, I’d say, consistently better from our losses. Marist was a tough team to start the season and Norfolk State is a completely different type team … Coming in today, knowing that Penn is a potential NCAA-kind of team, we knew we had to bring it.”
The spotlight shed upon the younger Navy talent. Green, a freshman guard, led the Mids’ offensive effort with 17 points — 15 of which were from beyond the arc — followed by Gatzounas, who had 16. Junior Morgan Taylor racked up boards for the Mids, totaling 10 along with her 13-point contribution.
Still, to head coach Stefanie Pemper, it’s clear that inexperience was as much a factor as anything else on Saturday.
“With some decision making but also ability to handle setbacks. … Bouncing back from giving up an O-board, getting beat on [defense], a frustrating foul call or missing a shot,” the coach said. “Yes. Inexperience everywhere.”
Freshman Jennifer Coleman, who had amassed a team-leading 43 points going into Saturday, was subdued. The Richmond, Virginia, native went 0-for-8 from the field.
“I don’t think she’ll do it again,” Pemper said. “She wants to be really good. She wants us to be good. She’ll respond well.”
The Mids were unable to put something in the bucket until two minutes were burned and five Quaker points were on the board. Taylor scored the first, a free throw.
“With Penn, you have to be a little bit careful about your energy because they go back-door really well. They slip screens really well,” Pemper said.
The Mids close the Navy Classic with North Carolina A&T today at 1 p.m.