NAVY 57, ARMY 45 1 for the win col­umn

Ulasewicz’s ca­reer game gets Navy past Army, Mids grab 1st Pa­triot League win

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - By Kather­ine Fominykh

As dark days de­scended upon the Navy women’s bas­ket­ball team, it could have let the clouds roll in, clog the re­main­der of its sea­son with de­feat.

But even as the Mid­ship­men sur­ren­dered their ninth con­sec­u­tive game, the play­ers filled their locker room with their team an­them: Jour­ney’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Win­ning their first Pa­triot League game on Wed­nes­day set the bar. Hand­ily de­feat­ing Army by dou­ble dig­its raised it to the rafters Satur­day.

Spear­headed by a ca­reer per­for­mance from se­nior Mary Kate Ulasewicz (23 points), the Mids avenged last year’s dis­ap­point­ment and dis­patched their school’s most bit­ter ri­val, 57-45. With the win, Navy (7-12) leaves the Black Knights alone in last place in the league.

En­ter­ing Satur­day, the Mids led Army in the all-time se­ries (37-36) that hear­kens back to 1981, after the vis­i­tors from West Point claimed two-straight games last year.

After the af­ter­noon’s out­come, of course, Navy has a lit­tle more breath­ing room.

“It feels great as a coach. I’m re­ally happy,” Navy coach Ste­fanie Pem­per said. “Some of the ad­ver­sity we’ve gone through this year, I’m re­ally happy for the team, the se­niors es­pe­cially.”

Pem­per, who is 14-10 against Army, can al­ways sense whether her team’s men­tal­ity is in the right place be­fore a game. In the last week, she’s felt that with her Mids.

“I’m not sur­prised by tonight,” Pem­per said. “I was less ner­vous about this game than I have be­fore the last few against Army. I’m not say­ing I knew we were go­ing to win, but I knew we would play well and have good lead­er­ship.”

Much of that lead­er­ship flowed through Ulasewicz. The se­nior eclipsed her pre­vi­ous scor­ing high early in the fourth quar­ter, pop­ping up al­ways, it seemed, when her team­mates needed her most.

“It was just the keep at­tack­ing-mind­set. Some­times, in our past games, we would get pas­sive,” Ulasewicz said. “This one, we were al­ways re­mind­ing each other to go for it, just take your shot, keep be­ing ag­gres­sive. We knew we had good de­fense. We just had to score.”

By Jas­mine Bishop’s and fresh­man Lind­say Llewellyn’s hands, the Mid­ship­men flew out to a smooth start that kept them afloat with an Army squad feel­ing the same kind of en­ergy. But quickly, that en­ergy dis­persed, bogged down in a flurry of missed field-goal shots (five) on Navy’s side and turnovers on Army’s.

De­spite their slip­pery grip, the squad of cadets man­aged to regis­ter a small lead over their An­napo­lis ri­vals, fu­eled by Hope Brown’s 3-poin­ter and Lind­sey Scam­man, who’d go on to lead Army with 21 points.

Just like in Navy’s rally win against Bos­ton Univer­sity on Wed­nes­day, the Mids needed a lit­tle fresh­man mojo.

Mimi Schrader wheeled up to the box and leaped, bring­ing the deficit to one. Then, just be­fore time ex­pired, Ulasewicz drove from half-court, brush­ing off guards Sarah Bohn and Kate Mur­ray to score the go-ahead bas­ket.

“We talked about win­ning three quar­ters. We thought if we could win three quar­ters, we could come away with a win,” Pem­per said. “So for us to grind out that first, and then to win all four, was huge.”

En­ter­ing the sec­ond quar­ter, the hosts seemed to shut their eyes again. Their three-and-half minute drought was bro­ken up only by Schrader, with a steal and a layup that ul­ti­mately handed the ad­van­tage to Navy for good.

By putting faith into their pair of rook­ies, Schrader, who ul­ti­mately fin­ished sec­ond be­hind Ulasewicz with nine points, and fel­low rookie Llewellyn have be­gun to flower.

“Lind­say had a big one against BU, and Mimi’s been solid at the point po­si­tion. Tonight I think her scor­ing was a lit­tle dif­fer­ent,” Pem­per said. “We were in a drought, and she hit that crazy pull-up off the bench. We were like ‘bad shot —

… Tonight, we mostly needed Mimi, and she was huge.”

For a spurt, Navy seemed to have found its scor­ing groove again. Ulasewicz sped out of a time­out with back-to-back jumpers, which Bishop then com­pli­mented with her own.

How­ever, the Mid­ship­men were fresh green kin­dling, quick to burn. Once again, shoot­ers fell silent, leav­ing Army plenty of room to catch their breath, and catch up, within four.

TER­RANCE WIL­LIAMS /CAP­I­TAL GAZETTE

Navy guard Sophie Gat­zounas (13) goes to the bas­ket against the Army at Navy Alumni Hall on Satur­day in An­napo­lis.

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