Jan. 16, 2013
WORCESTER, Mass. - The Navy women's basketball team led from start to finish in recording a 60-47 victory over Holy Cross Wednesday night at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass.
The Navy program began its membership in the Patriot League by posting a 1-20 record against Holy Cross at the Hart Center. With tonight's win, Navy became the first Patriot League team to defeat Holy Cross five-consecutive times in Worcester.
"It was a great win," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. "We're thrilled."
The Mids (9-8, 2-0 Patriot League) scored the opening five points of the contest and used the longball to jump out to a 15-4 lead. The cushion over the Crusaders (8-9, 0-2) soon grew to 15 points at 21-6, with the Mids connecting on four three-point field goals over the game's first eight minutes of play.
"I loved how focused our players were," said Pemper. "We were able to execute our stuff. Holy Cross had kind of a new defense and it was challenging for us. I thought we were focused at moving the ball around, had good inside-outside action and were able to score in transition."
The lead was again 15 points at 24-9 when the Mids started to struggle from the field. Despite taking great shots on most possessions, Navy scored just two points in a span of almost nine minutes, which allowed Holy Cross to winnow the margin down to 26-20.
Chloe Stapleton (So., Cary, N.C.) connected on her third three-point field goal of the half with just over one minute left to play in the frame to end the Navy drought. A turnover by Holy Cross followed by a missed shot by Navy gave the ball back to the Crusaders. Jade Geif (Jr., Lakeville, Minn.) proceeded to pick off a Holy Cross pass at the free throw line with six seconds left on the clock. She quickly flipped the ball to Kara Pollinger (Jr., Fort Gay, W.Va.), who scampered over halfcourt to launch a 30-foot shot just before the buzzer sounded that hit nothing but the bottom of the net. That was her second three-point field goal of the half and Navy's seventh, and it gave the Mids a 32-20 advantage at the break.
"We had some great looks toward the end of the first half, but couldn't hit anything," said Pemper. "That is always hard. I loved the shots we took. It is hard when you get good looks and can't knock them down and then the other team capitalizes on that. Then to hit two `three's,' shots that we were missing, two `three's' is six points, two `two's' is four, so that gave us more points. And just the dramatic fashion in which Kara hit it was awesome. We practice that shot."
Both offenses started slow in the early part of the second half, and it was Holy Cross that found its rhythm first. After a free throw by Navy opened the scoring in the frame, the Crusaders went on an 11-2 run to slice the margin down to 35-31 with 15:21 showing on the clock. It took 15 seconds for Navy to answer, which it did when Stapleton connected on a three-point field goal to boost Navy's lead out to seven points.
Holy Cross immediately responded with another field goal to make the score 38-35, then Molly Hourigan blocked Geif on the other end of the court. The Crusaders brought the ball over halfcourt and Lisa Mifsud attempted a three-point field goal that missed its mark. Erin Meador (So., Clifton, Va.) grabbed the ball for the Mids, and that led to a layup by Geif that made it a 40-33 Navy lead.
Neither team scored the next time it had the ball, then Hourigan scored on a layup to slice the margin down to 40-35 with 13:14 left to play. Once again, Navy responded quickly as Audrey Bauer (Jr., Lake Zurich, Ill.) drilled a three-point field goal to give Navy an eight-point lead with 12:55 remaining. Another Holy Cross missed shot was followed by Meador drilling a three-point field goal of her own to make it 46-35 Navy lead with 12:19 left on the clock. Two minutes later, Geif hit a short jumper to give Navy a 48-35 cushion with just over 10 minutes remaining.
The Navy lead never dipped below 10 points (50-40) over the remainder of game. Alix Membreno (Jr., Loxahatchee, Fla.) played a large role in the Mids maintaining the lead. She scored on a layup to give the Mids their 49th and 50th points of the night, which started a stretch where she scored 10 of Navy's final 12 points of the game.
"We faced some serious adversity," said Pemper. "Holy Cross went on a run, certainly in the first half and then in the second. It was key for us to respond and not panic. We were doing some good things, we just were not hitting shots. There were some things from a technical standpoint that we needed to do better, like getting back in transition. But credit Holy Cross; they pushed the ball so well. They brought a lot of bodies in, and I thought they kept everyone fresh. It was a difficult game. They had a lot of movement on offense and we had to get through so many screens."
Navy ended the night shooting 36.5 percent from the floor, which included a 10-of-34 (29.4%) effort from three-point land. On the other end of the court, the Mids held the Crusaders to 28.8 percent shooting in all and a 4-of-18 (22.2%) night from outside of the three-point arc.
Navy held a 46-41 advantage on the glass, with Geif alone grabbing 16 caroms for the Mids. Her career-high for boards left her one rebound shy of tying the Navy record for the most snared by a Mid in a Patriot League game.
Membreno connected on 7 of 13 shots from the floor to lead all players in the game with 16 points. She also added six rebounds and three steals on the night. Stapleton ended the game with four triples and 12 points, Pollinger added 12 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals, and Bauer contributed 11 points, six caroms and three assists.
Holy Cross was led in scoring by Alex Smith with 12 points and by Amy Lepley with 11 points.
Navy will next play Sunday at Army in a 2:30 p.m. game from Christl Arena.