Navy women band together, rout Army

Inside, outside games click for 87-69 victory in Patriot semifinals

February 28, 1999|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Before the season, junior forward Erica Hayes said she liked the karma on the Navy women's basketball team.

The vibes were hardly positive in the final month, when the Midshipmen lost four of their last six regular-season games before winning a one-point squeaker over Colgate in the Patriot League tourney opener Friday night.

But last night, Hayes and her teammates were in perfect harmony, crushing host Army, 87-69, to advance to the final against Holy Cross for the second straight year.

The Crusaders will again be host to the championship game Wednesday night after defeating Lafayette, 86-69, last night.

All five Navy starters scored in double figures. Hayes, after sitting out most of the first half with two quick fouls, made nine of 10 field-goal attempts to finish with a game-high 24 points.

Senior co-captain Vanessa Melofchik, who had been benched against Colgate for failing to provide court leadership, returned to a starting role last night to score a career-high 17 points and committed only one turnover in 35 minutes.

In edging Colgate, almost all of Navy's offense came from the inside combination of Hayes and senior center Laurie Coffey, as defenders dared the rest of the Midshipmen to shoot from outside.

That strategy backfired against Army as Melofchik and Mandy Stephan (12 points) each hit three three-pointers, and Jennifer Bombinski made four baseline shots in contributing 11 points.

Their sharpshooting against Army's 2-3 zone freed up for Hayes and Coffey. All told, Navy shot 50 percent (27-for-54) from the field in scoring its most points in five years.

After leading 37-30 at halftime, coach Joe Sanchez ordered the Midshipmen to apply more defensive pressure and cut off Army's penetration. Navy's margin ballooned to 69-54 with eight minutes left and Hayes then put the game out of reach by scoring nine straight points.

"I could feel Army was getting tired, and our guards made some great passes to get me good shots," Hayes said.

Added Coffey: "It really made me angry losing to Army at home three weeks ago. That's why this one was so sweet."

Sanchez had only praise for his team's solid effort.

"We're tournament primed now," he said. "We expected Army to play zone and handled their full-court and mid-court pressure very well. When our perimeter game contributes, it really gives us terrific floor balance. It's just great getting another chance to win the title."

ARMY -- Kelley 4-7 2-4 10, Helu 8-12 2-2 20, Dempsey 4-7 0-0 8, Worthing 0-6 2-2 2, Halfaker 3-7 0-3 6, Callahan 0-1 1-2 1, Stavola 1-1 2-2 5, Hamre 1-3 0-1 2, Semanoff 2-4 0-0 6, Canelli 0-2 0-1 0, Engelmeier 0-1 1-2 1, Montalban 1-1 0-0 2, Schaefer 0-0 0-0 0, Ruschak 2-2 2-2 6. Totals 26-54 12-21 69.

NAVY -- Bombinski 4-11 3-4 11, Hayes 9-10 6-7 24, Coffey 7-16 3-4 17, Melofchik 3-5 8-9 17, Stephan 3-6 3-4 12, Goodrich 0-4 0-0 0, Ball 0-1 3-6 3, Kavanaugh 0-0 1-2 1, Fryburger 0-0 0-0 0, Regoli 1-1 0-2 2, Vallely 0-0 0-0 0, Jensen 0-0 0-0 0, Marino 0-0 0-0 0, Burkovich 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-54 27-38 87.

Halftime--Navy, 37-30. 3-point goals--A 5-14 (Helu 2-2, Semanoff 2-4, Stavola 1-1, Canelli 0-1, Dempsey 0-1, Hamre 0-1, Halfaker 0-2, Worthing 0-2); N 6-16 (Stephan 3-4, Melofchik 3-5, Ball 0-1, Coffey 0-1, Goodrich 0-1, Bombinski 0-4). Rebounds--A 26 (Kelley 5); N 38 (Coffey 10). Assists--A 21 (Halfaker 5); N 21 (Bombinski 8). Fouled out--Kelley, Worthing. Total fouls--A 27, N 20. A--n/a.

Pub Date: 2/28/99

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