Jan. 29, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- After Kara Pollinger (Sr., Fort Gay, W.Va.) scored the last six points of the Navy women's basketball team's narrow win at Holy Cross Saturday, the team captain tallied the last five points for the Mids to help them secure a 48-44 victory over American Wednesday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.
The win was Navy's 10th in a row and keeps the Mids atop the Patriot League standings at the midpoint of the league campaign with a 9-0 record (17-3 overall). American dropped its second game in a row -- the Eagles lost to Army by one point Saturday at home -- and fell to 6-3 in league games (13-7 overall) with the loss. Army is in between the Mids and the Eagles in second place with a 7-2 record.
"Thrilled with the win," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. "What a defensive struggle.
"American forced us to win in a little different way, and we never really found a rhythm tonight."
Navy trailed American by a few points in the early part of the game, but the Mids built several seven-point leads before going into the locker room holding a 25-19 advantage. The Mids made just 4 of 18 three-point shots (22.2%) and sank 33.3 percent of their shots from the floor in all during the first 20 minutes of play. But Navy limited the Eagles to a 2 of 9 effort from three-point land (22.2%) and to 26.7-percent shooting overall in the frame.
The Eagles scored eight of the first 10 points of the second half to tie the game at 27-27 and had two possessions to take the lead before Navy scored two points on a pair of free throws by M.L. Morrison (Sr., Southlake, Texas). That was followed by Audrey Bauer (Sr., Lake Zurich, Ill.) scoring after a steal by Alix Membreno (Sr., Loxahatchee, Fla.), then a steal by Sarita Condie (Fr., Lovelock, Nev.) led to Pollinger making one of two free throw attempts to give the Mids a 32-27 lead.
American had cut the slim Navy lead down to two points when Pollinger drilled a three-point shot that boosted the Mids out to a 38-33 lead with 6:14 showing on the clock. Four-straight points by the Eagles would make it a one-point game with 4:12 left to play. The Mids missed shots on each of their next two possessions, but the Eagles turned the ball over on each of their next two trips down the court. The latter turnover was a steal by Audrey Bauer
(Sr., Lake Zurich, Ill.). Navy converted the American miscue into points when Bauer connected on a three-point shot to give the Mids a 41-37 lead with 2:18 left on the clock.
The Eagles missed a shot on their ensuing possession, but the ball went out of bounds off of the Mids to allow American another chance to score. They would tally a pair of points on a jumper by Arron Zimmerman with 1:47 left to play. Chloe Stapleton (Jr., Cary, N.C.) missed a trey for the Mids, but Membreno snared the loose ball and then scored on a jumper to make the score 43-39 in favor of the Mids with 1:11 remaining.
That four-point lead would soon be just one point when Alexis Dobbs hit a three-point shot from the top of the key with 51 seconds left to play. After an American timeout, Pollinger answered the triple by Dobbs with one of her own to give Navy a 46-42 lead with 37.2 seconds remaining. American again cut the lead in half on a jumper by Jen Dumiak with 18.3 seconds left, with the Eagles calling another timeout right away.
Navy inbounded the ball and was able to run a few more seconds off of the clock before the Eagles fouled Pollinger with 13.6 seconds left to play. Just as she did Saturday against the Crusaders when she was six of six from the foul line in the last 31 seconds of play, she walked to the other end of the court and made both free throws to make it a two-possession game at 48-44. Navy called a timeout after her second attempt dropped through the net. The defensive plan worked well as the Eagles were unable to get any kind of clean look at the basket before Dumiak tossed up a late three-point attempt just prior to the clock expiring.
"The end of the game was great for us," said Pollinger. "A lot of people say you learn more from a loss than you do a win. But a win like this could be a loss if a couple of shots went differently. I think we took a lot from the end of the game. We saw a lot of focus from each other, which is something you want to see."
Navy's 48 points were a season low (55 at Minnesota) -- and fell 24 points below its scoring average in league games of 72 points a game -- as was its field goal percentage of 30.4 percent (31.5% vs. Iona). Additionally, Navy's three-point percent of 25 percent (7-28) tied for its lowest mark of the season (Princeton, 7-28).
Defensively, the Mids limited American to an overall shooting mark of 30.2 percent and held the Eagles to a 3 of 18 night from three-point range (16.7%).
"It wasn't pretty," said Pemper. "I thought both defenses were really good. We missed a lot of really good looks."
American held a 45-36 advantage on the boards, but Navy scored 20 points after the 16 turnovers it forced the Eagles into, while American accrued 13 points following the 11 turnovers the Mids committed.
Pollinger paced the Mids with 17 points on her 4 of 8 shooting from three-point range and her 5 of 12 shooting night from the floor in all. Both Bauer and Membreno added 10 points and seven rebounds to Navy's effort.
Dumiak led a trio of American players in double figures with 14 points to go along with her nine rebounds. Joining her in double-digit points were Dobbs with 11 points and Geleisa George with 10.
Navy will be home again Saturday night when it plays host to Lafayette in a 7 p.m. game in Alumni Hall.