Renewed Towson women win their first game, 55-54

Richardson's free throw with :51 left tops Navy

College Basketball

November 29, 2001|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Navy women's basketball team entered play yesterday already having traveled more than 5,200 miles to play its first four games, including stops in South Carolina, Florida and California.

It was the Midshipmen's shortest trip of the season, however, that proved most agonizing.

Host Towson forced a season-high 24 turnovers and shot 42 percent in the second half - considerably higher than its season average - in a 55-54 win over Navy, giving first-year Tigers coach Joe Mathews his first victory.

After his team's three straight losses to open the season, Mathews credited his team's turnaround to a renewed enthusiasm, starting with a meeting after Saturday's 22-point loss to Duquesne.

"The last two days, our attitude has changed in terms of a commitment to winning," Mathews said. "We've had the opportunity to watch three very good basketball teams and the habits they have. ... Our attitude was a little bit different. We were hungry to win a game."

Still, at the tail end of a second half that saw 11 lead changes, it took a sterling late-game effort to propel the Tigers (1-3) to victory.

Down 52-48, they outscored Navy 7-2 in the final 2:20, pulling to within a point on center Faith Jones' three-point play, then taking a 54-52 lead on Kelli Talbot's driving layup with 1:06 left. Talbot finished with a team-high 10 points.

Jackie Richardson then made one of two free throws with 51 seconds left, and it turned out to be the winning point.

Trailing 55-52, Navy (2-3) got within a point on Alison Luchsinger's 10-foot leaner with 32 seconds left. The Midshipmen had a chance for the lead with 6 seconds left, but Luchsinger's jumper rimmed out.

Navy's Maile Shimoda pounced on the rebound in the corner but, quickly double-teamed, was unable to get rid of the ball before time expired.

"Turnovers killed us," Navy coach Joe Sanchez said. "It doesn't matter how good defense you play if you don't take care of the basketball."

For Towson, it was also a matter of finding a way to deny 6-foot-1 Navy sophomore Bryanna Herring. After scoring 10 points in the first 7:19, primarily by getting the ball low and finishing with layups, she managed just eight the rest of the way, finishing with a game-high 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

"The only adjustment we made was really just trying to play harder and put more ball pressure on the passers," Mathews said. "We couldn't do much with her, but we tried to make it harder for the passers to find her."

Towson started quickly in this one, forcing early turnovers and taking an 18-12 lead after the first 10:31, with Mia Chapman scoring six and Talbot three.

Led by its inside game, however, Navy quickly got back into it. The Midshipmen had little trouble feeding 6-foot-1 center Herring, and the sophomore responded by scoring 10 of the team's 12 points during one torrid 7-minute stretch.

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