Navy’s women's basketball team opened its season on Wednesday by dominating Division III Catholic University, 81-36, at Alumni Hall.
Navy is missing some key components from last year's 25-win team, and has five freshmen and several seldom used sophomores on the squad who will be counted on to pick up the slack, meaning they have a lot to find out about themselves.
On Wednesday, coach Stefanie Pemper started freshman Jennifer Coleman, two sophomores, an experienced junior and her sole senior, Bianca Roach, against the Cardinals, who started three freshmen.
Even considering the level of competition a Division III school offers a program such as Navy, the Mids were impressive as they turned the contest into a one-sided affair by halftime.
Led by freshmen Kolbi Green's 17 points and Coleman's 13 points in their collegiate debuts, Navy rolled in its opening contest against the Cardinals, who were outscored 24-6 in the second quarter after leading early.
Sophomore Sophie Gatzounas added 11 points and seven rebounds, sophomore Jasmine Bishop had 12 points and five steals and returning starter Laurel Jaunich led the Mids with 10 rebounds. Coleman added seven rebounds and had six assists.
Coleman scored Navy's first basket of the game and Green was the first reserve off the bench and hit consecutive 3-pointers to put Navy up 13-7. They each had 11 first-half points as Navy led 37-13 at intermission after Catholic went more than nine minutes against without a basket, finally swishing the nets as the half's final horn sounded.
Navy outscored Catholic 23-10 in the third period for a 60-23 lead and led by as many as 46 points before clearing the bench.
"I am pleased. Sometimes in a game like this you tend not to start out so good, and it takes you a while to find your rhythm, which happened with us in the first quarter," Pemper said. "But we made adjustments, adapted to their zone well and finished strong."
Eleven of the 12 players who suited up — junior Morgan Taylor and two others didn't suit up — played 10 or more minutes, a key accomplishment for a team with so many young and inexperienced players..
"We weren't sure what to expect from Catholic. It was good to get so many (young and inexperienced players) get to play the minutes that they did," Pemper said. "We missed Morgan. I had to play some players at big guard (that normally wouldn't have played there)."
After making just one of nine shots to start the game, Navy finished 26 for 64 (40.6 percent) from the floor,making 12 of 34 from beyond the arc. They shot 71 percent (17 for 24) from the foul line, which also pleased the coach.
"We don't play against many zones except our own (in practice) so it was nice to get some work there," Pemper said. "And be sure to mention our free throw shooting."
Navy's defense had a good night with 17 steals, 30 turnovers caused and 27 defensive rebounds that gave them a 48-32 edge on the boards. Catholic shot just 22.4 percent (11 for 49) from the floor, going five for 29 during the second and third periods.
"Our defense really picked up. We were shaky in the beginning until we settled down," said Roach. "It was good to finally get a chance to play somebody in a real game. It's been a long 30 days. This was a good game to help prepare us for Sunday."
Navy had not opened the season at home since 2011 and hadn't played Catholic since 1990. They play a second straight home game to open the season when they meet Marist on Sunday.