In an effort to shake up the offense against second-seeded Maryland in the opening round of the NCAA women's tournament, Navy coach Stefanie Pemper went deep into her playbook.
Unfortunately, nothing she drew up on the clipboard could overcome the height and athleticism of the Terrapins, who pulled away in the second half to a 59-44 victory Saturday.
No. 15 seed Navy (18-14) went 6 for 25 from beyond the 3-point arc and shot 30.5 percent overall against the Atlantic Coast Conference champions.
"Dang, we spent all week working on offense," Pemper said. "We probably ran 27 plays tonight. For anyone sitting near the scorer's table, you probably thought we had a play for every state in the union."
Navy was outrebounded 46-33 and took only two free throws, but the most telling statistic was its difficulty shooting from the outside.
"We shot the 3, and it's part of why we had a successful season," Pemper said. "We certainly shot it tonight. We just didn't connect."
Maryland's height was one reason.
"I think that played a big part in why a few of us were hesitant to shoot shots that were definitely open," Navy guard Erin Edwards said. "We're just not used to such size on the perimeter."
Alyssa Thomas had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Laurin Mincy scored 14 for Maryland (29-4), which will next play Monday night against No. 7 seed Louisville.
Although the men's tournament featured a pair of 15 seeds knocking off No. 2s, there would be no major upset here. When the women's tournament began, No. 15 seeds were 0-68, and Navy was unable to break the trend.
The Midshipmen had never defeated a ranked team or an ACC foe, and that pattern continued, too.
Thomas had a lot to do with it. Pemper said trying to stop her is like containing "rainwater."
"We had a hard time guarding No. 25," Pemper said.
It was Maryland's 20th trip to the NCAA tournament and Navy's second — both in the last two seasons as Patriot League champs. Edwards, a senior, wishes she could stick around for a third try.
"I'm jealous of where this team's headed, and what they're capable of," she said.
Jade Geif led Navy with 14 points. Audrey Bauer went 2 for 15 from the floor and missed eight of nine attempts from beyond the 3-point arc.
Despite finishing with a 27-14 rebounding advantage in the first half, Maryland needed a late 14-6 run to take a 31-23 lead at the break.
Navy did a good job of hanging with the Terrapins at the start, perhaps because the Terrapins hadn't played a game since winning the ACC tournament on March 4.
Maryland missed five of its first seven shots and fell behind 8-4 on 3-pointers by Alix Membreno and Bauer.
The Midshipmen were painstakingly deliberate on the offensive end, rarely taking a shot without players on the bench counting down the final seconds on the 30-second clock. Not many of those tries went in, but Navy had only two turnovers in the opening 16 minutes.
Maryland got plenty of layups but couldn't connect, going 5 for 19 from the floor before backup Kim Rodgers drilled a 3-pointer for a 20-17 lead. After Navy misfired on the other end Rodgers again connected from beyond the arc, and Brene Moseley added another to make it 26-17.
"We looked a little rusty from our break, but I was happy to see us kind of settle down before halftime and then get it together for the second half," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I thought the second half was more indicative of how we play."
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