There was a time this season when the Naval Academy's women's basketball team was off to its best start ever at 12-0. But within a week, sophomore starters Jenny Thompson and Becky Dowling were lost for the season with knee injuries, and the Midshipmen had been dealt two severe blows.
Then came what could be the knockout punch. Team captain Adria Schneck (20.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg), Navy's leading scorer this winter, was suspended for the rest of the season for violations of the administrative disciplinary act.
"All our hopes this year were to win the Patriot League," said coach Joe Sanchez. "We beat Holy Cross the first time around, which is the heavy favorite, but then everything kind of crumbled."
Dowling, the Patriot League's reigning Rookie of the Year, was second on the team in scoring at 18.1 points a game, and first in rebounding at 9.1. Thompson ran the offense and averaged about five points.
Schneck, a forward/center, is allowed to practice with the team and will play next season.
Navy is 1-3 since the three players were lost. Overall, the Midshipmen are 16-6 and starting as many as four plebes.
"We're just trying to regroup and do the best we can down the stretch," Sanchez said. "We've lost a lot of firepower, so we just have to rely on our kids to play the best defense they can. We've gone back to basics and simplified a lot of things."
Loyola women climbing
The team isn't nearly as experienced as the previous two, both of which made the NCAA tournament. The starting lineup for the first five games included four freshmen because of injuries. No wonder the women's basketball team at Loyola, having lost all five starters, including all-time leading scorer Patty Stoffey, was picked to finish fifth in the preseason MAAC coaches poll.
Loyola, coming off a school-record 20-win season, got off to a 1-4 start before becoming healthier. Coach Pat Coyle replaced three of the rookies with a sophomore, junior and senior, then put one of the freshmen back into the lineup later. The result: the Greyhounds are 10-11 overall and 4-5 in the MAAC after Friday's loss at Manhattan.
The only two players who have started every game are junior forward Lynn Albert (13.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg), who scored a career-high 27 points in Sunday's 64-52 upset of first-place St. Peter's, and freshman guard Jennifer Bongard (10.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg).
The four freshmen, including point guard Corey Hewitt (4.9 ppg, 3.4 apg), forward Jina Mosley (5.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and center Mary Ann Kirsch (7.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg), who reclaimed her starting job, have accounted for 48 percent of Loyola's points, 45 percent of its rebounds and 52 percent of its assists.
Salisbury's Clark steps up
After spending two seasons as a role player, junior forward Randy Clark leads Salisbury State in rebounds (9.3), blocks (1.4) and field goals percentage (53.3), and is second in scoring (13.3 ppg) behind guard Casey Musick. And the Sea Gulls were thriving at 13-8 overall and 9-2 in the CAC going into yesterday's game at Mary Washington.
Coach Ward Lambert would love to have him around for one more season, but that may not happen. An honor-roll student and academic All-American nominee, Clark is scheduled to complete his work toward an engineering degree next year at the University of Maryland as part of a co-op program.
"He hasn't made up his mind yet," Lambert said. "I'm not going to put any pressure on him. He realizes he's not going to play in the pros, so he's got to get that degree."
The College of Notre Dame's swim team set four school records in a recent meet at St. Mary's: Distance freestyler Mary Khan broke her records in the 1,650- and 1,000-yard freestyle; Susan Cheek eclipsed her record in the 200 backstroke, and Kelly Love set a mark in the 200 breaststroke. The Gators went undefeated in January. . . . Towson State senior Meilani Smith had been a triple winner five times this season going into yesterday's swim meet at Central Connecticut, and is favored to TTC win the Tigers' MVP award an unprecedented fourth straight year. . . . Goucher's Mike Raley (Loyola) ran his unbeaten streak to 23 consecutive swim meets. . . . St. Mary's senior Cindy Davenport (Old Mill) went over 1,000 career points in basketball last week. . . . Maryland junior Sara Borst posted her best time of the season in the 50-yard freestyle (23.75) in the ACC championships, earning NCAA Division I consideration for the March 21 NCAA championships in Ann Arbor, Mich. . . . Bowie State's men's basketball team won its first game against Norfolk State in 39 tries, 81-69, last weekend. The Bulldogs had lost to the Spartans two weeks earlier, 116-57. . . . Western Maryland senior Julie Cox (Liberty) met her second qualifying standard for the NCAA Division III indoor track championships last weekend at Franklin and Marshall. Cox, who had qualified in the 55-meter hurdles in December, won the 55-meter -- in 7.37 seconds.