Navy gets in zone in time to win 9-1 Mids make change, get 15-0 run en route to 71-66 win over Mount

December 22, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Navy women's basketball coach Joe Sanchez has prescribed special roles for each of his players. For example, it is junior center Laurie Coffey's job to score in the lane and freshman Mandy Stephan is given the green light to shoot from three-point range.

Both Coffey and Stephan played their parts expertly in leading a spirited second-half rally against Mount St. Mary's yesterday to win the fifth Navy Classic championship game, 71-66.

The Midshipmen trailed 55-45 with 7: 52 remaining when Sanchez called a timeout to change his defense from man-to-man to zone and encourage his players to take the open shot.

Navy (9-1) responded by running off 15 straight points to grab a 61-55 lead with 3: 32 remaining and held on to end a seven-game losing streak against the Mount (3-6).

Senior guard Joanne Groth began the winning rally with a layup, and then Stephan and Coffey took over.

Stephan, a Plebe from nearby Springfield, Va., hit two three-pointers and a jumper and the 6-foot-1 Coffey contributed two layups and two free throws.

Coffey, still sporting a knee brace from an injury that sidelined her for the final eight games last season, finished with 21 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Stephan, averaging only 4.4 points as a reserve forward, had a career-high 13 points and seven rebounds.

"If we can get Coffey the ball 3 or 4 feet from the basket, we expect her to score," Sanchez said. "We were forcing the ball down low in the first half, but once we opened things up with our perimeter shooting, we could work it inside."

Both Coffey and tournament MVP Becky Dowling found more room to operate, thanks to the long-range shooting of Stephan.

"I recruited Mandy for her perimeter shooting," Sanchez said. "They were laying off our guards in their zone. I told Mandy to shoot the ball and she did her job."

But it was also that switch in defense that changed the momentum as Navy limited the Mountaineers to six points in a six-minute stretch after they had built their 55-45 lead.

Playing man-to-man, the Mids were getting burned consistently by Kia Williams (24 points), a gifted freshman from Largo.

"They were doing a good job of isolating Williams," Sanchez said. "We switched to a matchup zone and kept extending it, forcing her farther out on the perimeter."

Denied the ball, Williams scored only two points in the last seven minutes.

"I'm not discouraged," veteran Mount coach Bill Sheahan said. "We're a very young team, and we were hurt when we lost [freshman] Deanna Butters on fouls with over six minutes left. But we're getting better inch by inch."

Morehead State (3-6) fought off repeated rallies by Coppin State (2-5) to win the consolation game, 88-82.

Morehead led 80-69 with 3: 55 remaining. But Coppin, led by junior Trisha Allen (27 points) and freshman Javonti Jones, trimmed the deficit to 82-80 with 2: 07 left.

Morehead built the lead to 85-80 before a jumper by promising sophomore Liesha Mitchell (15 points, 11 rebounds) gave Coppin a last opportunity at 85-82 with 38 seconds to play. But Morehead effectively ran down the clock, and three free throws by Dominique Mitchell sealed the victory.

Pub Date: 12/22/97

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