This season has not been an easy one for Navy women’s basketball. There were more downs than ups. The Mids finished the regular season with an 8-20 record, a 5-13 mark in Patriot League play, and endured a pair of five-game losing streaks.
But all along the way, Navy fans had something to smile about, because Jennifer Coleman was putting up ridiculous numbers. And in sparks, in brief moments, it seemed like second-year coach Tim Taylor was building toward something great.
After Monday night though, it will be easier for Navy fans to forget about those collection of defeats. They don’t matter now — largely because of one more absurd and miraculous play by Coleman.
Trailing by two points with one second left at top-seeded Holy Cross, Coleman fought her way past a defender, caught the inbounds pass from Mimi Schrader, spun around an flung a right-handed shot into the air from behind the arc, as a Crusader had a hand in her face. The ball sailed on a high arc through the air, kissed the glass and fell softly through the hoop.
Buzzer. Swish. Game.
Coleman’s impossible three-point buzzer-beating bank-shot gave Navy an improbable victory over top-seeded Holy Cross in the Patriot League Tournament on Monday at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. The final digits on the scoreboard were 50-49, as Coleman was mobbed by her teammates in a dogpile near the Navy bench.
Coleman’s heroic play even made SportsCenter.
And afterwards, it was all hugs in the locker room.
Coleman finished the game with 27 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three steals. It was her 21st double-double of the season — which is tied for fifth nationally.
While Coleman rightfully deserves a fair amount of credit for the win, she didn’t do it on her own.
Navy played superb defense, holding Holy Cross to 2 of 16 shooting from three-point range for a 12.5% clip. That’s the worst any team has shot from deep against the Mids this year. Navy also forced the Crusaders into 19 turnovers. Additionally, Sydne Watts had 13 points in the victory for the Mids.
With six minutes to play, Navy trailed Holy Cross by 10 points. Buckets by Schrader and Morganne Andrews sliced that deficit down to six points, and then back-to-back three-pointers by Watts — on assists from Coleman — a few possessions later cut it down to just four points.
Coleman went to work in winning time. The 5-foot-9 senior from Richmond, Virginia knocked down a trio of three-pointers — including that wild game-winner — with under 64 seconds to play.
Navy is on the road against for its next game in the Patriot League Tournament, playing at No. 4 Bucknell on Thursday night. With a victory there, Navy will be playing for the Patriot League title. The Mids split with the Bison in the regular season.
It would be easy to say that it’s unlikely Navy will win the Patriot League. But the Mids are playing March with Jennifer Coleman. So — as it’s been proven — anything can happen.