Feb. 12, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Kara Pollinger (Sr., Fort Gay, W.Va.) scored a career-high 27 points and Audrey Bauer (Sr., Lake Zurich, Ill.) drained a three-point shot to break a tie late in the game to spark the Navy women's basketball team to a 70-61 victory over Bucknell Wednesday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.
In addition to the heroics by the duo, each of the two players also notched the 1,000th point of their respective careers during the contest. Four members of Navy's Class of 2014 -- Pollinger, Bauer, Jade Geif (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.) and Alix Membreno (Sr., Loxahatchee, Fla.) -- have now scored 1,000 career points. Initial research has found that four players from a single class have scored 1,000 career points on just three other occasions in NCAA history: Connecticut, 2002 and '05; Middle Tennessee State, 2010.
"It is something that is really cool for our class," said Pollinger of four players from the class scoring 1,000 points, "and something we are really proud of. It feels good, but not as good as it does to bounce back from our loss at Army Saturday."
Navy improved its Patriot League record to 11-2 with the win (19-5 overall) and Bucknell fell to 8-5 in league games with the loss (13-10).
"It feels good to get a win like this, against a good team," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper.
The Mids started the game very slowly, missing each of their first six shots from the field while the Bison made five of their first seven attempts. Combined, that gave Bucknell an 11-2 lead less than four minutes into the game. Navy responded by going on a 12-2 run to take a 14-13 lead.
The lead would change hands seven more times through Bucknell taking a 25-24 advantage. The teams traded turnovers, then a missed trey by the Mids gave the ball back to the Bison with 35 seconds remaining in the half. Bucknell tried to hold for the last shot of the half, but a turnover gave the ball back to the Mids with less than four seconds remaining. Navy inbounded the ball to Pollinger on its defensive half of the court. She raced uncontested to nearly the top of the key before launching a shot just prior to the buzzer sounding that hit nothing but net to give Navy a 27-25 lead at the break.
After misfiring on each of its first six shots from the floor, Navy would make 10 of 22 field goal attempts (45.5%) over the remainder of the half. On the other end of the court, Bucknell was just 5 of 22 from the field (22.7%) after its 5 of 7 start to the game.
Accounting for half of Navy's 10 made field goals in the stanza was Pollinger, who was 5 of 7 from the floor and 3 of 4 from three-point range in scoring 13 points in the first 20 minutes of play.
Bucknell would score a field goal on its first possession of the second half to tie the game, but Navy ran off the ensuing 14 points to build a 41-27 lead six minutes into the half. Pollinger and Geif each contributed six points during that 14-0 spurt by the Mids.
Navy's lead would soon reach 15 points at 48-33. After consecutive field goals by the Bison, Pollinger hit a jumper with 11 minutes left to play to account for her 1,000th career point and give the Mids a 50-37 lead. A layup by Geif soon pushed the advantage back to 15 points at 52-37 with 10 minutes remaining.
Bucknell rallied and quickly cut the lead to 56-51 on a three-point shot by Megan McGurk at the 5:27 mark. Membreno immediately answered with a three-point shot of her own, but the Bison tallied the next eight points to tie the game at 59-59 with 3:10 left on the clock.
"We got caught in a bad stretch there," said Pemper. "Fatigue set in, unfortunately, and we gave up a few threes in transition."
Bauer promptly drilled a three-point shot 20 seconds late to give Navy a 62-59 lead and account for the 1,000th point of her career. A Bucknell offensive foul was followed by a missed shot by Bauer, then McGurk made a pair of free throws to cut the margin down to one point at 62-61 with just over two minutes left.
Navy's lead would soon by back to three points as M.L. Morrison (Sr., Southlake, Texas) connected on a driving jumper with 1:52 showing on the clock. The Bison called timeout with 1:39 remaining, but missed a three-point shot afterward was hauled in by Membreno. She would soon find Pollinger for a three-point shot that boosted Navy's lead out to 67-61 with 1:14 left to play. A missed shot by Bucknell was snared by Morrison, then Bauer was fouled with 43.7 seconds remaining.
After making the first shot, she missed the second but Geif was there to gather in the loose ball. Geif herself was fouled with 41.4 seconds remaining. She missed the front end of the bonus, with the ball going out of bounds off of the Mids. Bucknell misfired on another three-point attempt, with Membreno again there for the rebound. She would be fouled with 24.6 seconds left, and sank both free throws to push the lead out to nine points. Bucknell's last opportunity ended when Geif took a charge from Shelby Romine with 17.3 seconds remaining in the game.
Navy would end the game on an 11-2 run.
"You have to win the homes games, is the cliché," said Pemper. "We have won a lot of games here, and there is the expectation we should win games like this. But we have to compete. I thought tonight was nice was we had some players play in different positions. M.L. got a few more minutes and Audrey played more on the perimeter. I was really pleased with what we were able to do defensively. To hold Audrey Dotson to seven points was really good."
Navy shot 44.1 percent from the field in all. That included a 16 of 33 effort (48.4%) on its two-point attempts and a 10 of 26 showing (38.5%) from three-point land. Bucknell also shot the ball very well, connecting on 40 percent of its overall field goal attempts and three-point shots (9-22). The Bison also were 10 of 11 from the foul line while the Mids were 8 of 13 from the charity stripe.
Navy narrowly lost the battle of the boards, 36-33, but the Mids did not allow the Bison to snare an offensive rebound in the second half (Navy grabbed six offensive caroms after halftime). Navy also turned the ball over just twice in the second half and eight times in the game while forcing the Bison into 16 turnovers on the night. That allowed the Mids to tally 15 points after turnovers while Bucknell scored just four such points.
Pollinger and Geif each enjoyed strong shooting nights. Pollinger was 6 of 7 from three-point range and 10 of 13 in all from the floor in scoring her 27 points. That effort bettered her previous career high of 24, attained in three prior games and most recently in the championship game of the 2013 Patriot League Tournament. She would also add four rebounds, three assists, one steal and just one turnover in her 35 minutes on the court.
"The last time we played Bucknell," said Pollinger, "I shot the ball poorly and let my teammates down. I really wanted to play for them tonight. I owed it to them."
Meanwhile, Geif scored 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the floor and a 4 of 5 night from the foul line. She would add six boards and a pair of assists to her stats line.
"Jade does so many things where you realize how valuable a player she is," said Pemper. "Alix was talking after the game about a play she made on Romine that made Alix feel so good because she helped her. Jade does a lot of things that don't really get noticed."
Bauer ended the game with nine points, five rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal, with Membreno totaling 11 rebounds, seven points and seven assists. Though Chloe Stapleton (Jr., Cary, N.C.) was held scoreless, she swiped a career-best six steals.
"I felt good the whole way because I liked how our team was playing, and how our chemistry was going," said Pemper. "With four seniors in the starting lineup and five on the team, you can't take chemistry for granted. That will be really key for us tonight. And our inside-outside action was really good. We have to do that. With our personnel, we have to have that."
McGurk and Romine each scored 14 points to lead the Bucknell offense.
The Mids are now one full game in front of second-place American (10-3), which defeated Lehigh this evening, and 1.5 games in front of third-place Army (9-3), which lost to Holy Cross tonight.
Navy will take to the road for its next game, a Saturday afternoon game at Colgate.