NAVY 57, ARMY 45 1 for the win column
Ulasewicz’s career game gets Navy past Army, Mids grab 1st Patriot League win
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.
Navy guard Sophie Gatzounas (13) goes to the basket against the Army at Navy Alumni Hall on Saturday in Annapolis.