WEST POINT – Missy Traversi is not a big fan of losing. Army’s new women’s basketball coach got off to an 0-2 start with a couple blowout losses earlier this month, though, and a tough stretch of games lay ahead.
Somehow, she got her message across and the Black Knights have rolled off three consecutive wins, capped by a double-overtime 87-81 win over her alma mater Maine on Friday at Christl Arena.
The Black Knights squandered a 34-24 halftime lead. Sabria Hunter’s buzzer-beating put-back of a 3-point airball from Kate Murray sent the game to overtime. Freshman Trinity Hardy hit a 3-pointer with 1:52 left in the second extra period to put Army up for good at 82-81. Murray hit two foul shots, Hardy one and Hope Brown a pair with a second remaining for the final margin.
Murray hit four 3-pointers as part of her 21 points, a rejuvenated Alisa Fallon posted 18 points and 10 rebounds, Hunter posted 16 points and 11 rebounds, Hardy netted 12 points and Lindsey Scamman 10. Army sank 11 3-pointers in all and grabbed 17 of 49 rebounds from the offensive glass.
Traversi’s first win was a 76-68 decision at Sacred Heart on Sunday. Army beat Air Force, 73-62, on Wednesday for the Silver Star in her first service academy matchup. During the three-game surge, Army is outscoring the opposition 79-70, has 41 offensive rebounds, 25 3-pointers and scored 62 points off opponent turnovers.
With a veteran lineup that has had to learn Traversi’s intense style of full-court defense pressure, filling the passing lanes and hoisting 3-pointers in transition, it’s been a remarkable turnaround in a week’s time.
With a small sample size thus far, Army has raised its scoring average by 10 points per game, is taking seven more shots per contest while raising its percentage by 27 points and is averaging half a 3-pointer more per 40 minutes. On the downside, the Black Knights are giving up 10 points more per game and turnovers have jumped 50 percent, to 24, but that’s to be expected with a new system and players adapting to new roles.
Traversi was hired in March to replace the retired Dave Magarity, who was head coach of the Black Knights for the previous 15 seasons.
Hardy, from Lakeland, Florida, has been a very promising recruit. She is a slashing guard who has to adapt to the point guard position. She is averaging 15.8 points but her 13 assists are shadowed by 24 turnovers.
The senior Fallon was asked to focus on her strong defensive skills but she is kicking in 12.6 points per game with a team second-best 46.7 percent shooting among those averaging more than 20 minutes.
Murray, a 6-foot-senior forward, is the team’s leading 3-point shooter with 11 goals on almost 40 percent accuracy. She is averaging 12 points.
The junior 6-foot-1 Hunter is finally healthy from injuries suffered as a freshman and posting 11.6 points and a team-high 8.2 rebounds.
A sophomore, guard Lauren Lithgow broke into the starting lineup in game two and is averaging 23 minutes.
“I think they're going to show me what kind of team they want to be,’’ Traversi said before the win streak. “I think it's on them. It's their team. It's entirely up to them what they decide. We have the systems in place. They have to buy into it. They have to be consistent with their approach. I think the expectations fall on them. Obviously, I want to win … that's everywhere I've been. I hate to lose.’’
Traversi scored 1,130 points for Maine and played three professional seasons. She coached 13 seasons at the high school and NCAA Division I, II and III levels. Her last stop was Adelphi where she led the Panthers to an 83-37 record, including a 27-3 mark and No. 1 East Region seed in the 2020 NCAA Division II tournament.
Army closes the first semester with games against Long Island (Dec. 1), Rider (Dec. 4) and Bryant (Dec. 8), the latter two on the road. A Dec. 28 game at Yale is the last before Patriot League play begins Dec. 30 at Loyola (Md.).
Tues. 9 – vs. Immaculata (D2. Atlantic East, 0-2), postponed, make-up TBD; Sat. 13 – Lost at Manhattan 75-55; Thur. 18 – Lost to Quinnipiac 75-56; Sun. 21 – Won at Sacred Heart 76-68; Wed. 24 – Won vs. Air Force 73-62; Fri. 26 – Won vs. Maine 87-81 (2 ot)
Wed. 1 – at Long Island (Northeast, 7-11), 7 p.m.; Sat. 4 – Rider (Metro Atlantic, 8-18), 1 p.m.; Wed. 8 – at Bryant (Northeast, 7-14), 5 p.m.; Tues. 28 – at Yale (Ivy, did not play in 2020-21), TBD
Home games played at Christl Arena, West Point; asterisk marks Patriot League games; overall and Patriot records in parenthesis; most league and home games on ESPN3.com, plus WBNR (1260-AM, 96.5-FM), WLNA (1420-AM), The Varsity Network app
Seniors (6) - No. 10 Sarah Bohn, G; No. 13 Lindsey Scamman, F; No. 15 Kate Murray, F; No. 23 Taylor Sullivan, F; No. 24 Natalie Stralkus, G; No. 31 Alisa Fallon, G
Juniors (5) - No. 0 Jaida Stripoli, G; No. 3 Natalie Rhine, G; No. 4 Kamryn Hall, F; No. 11 Sabria Hunter, F; No. 14 Hope Brown, G
Sophomores (5) - No. 1 Melanie George, G; No. 2 Sam McNaughton, G; No. 22 Reagan Warren, F; No. 34 Lauren Lithgow, G; No. 35 McKenzie Muse, F
Freshmen (3) - No. 12 Vasana Kearney, G; No. 21 Trinity Hardy, G; No. 33 Ashlyn Bigelow, G
Head coach: Missy Traversi
Assistants: Jenerrie Harris; Cristina Centeno; Gadson Lefft; Tony DiClemente; Anthony Angotti
This article originally appeared on Times Herald-Record: Army women's basketball rebounds after 0-2 start with three straight