ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy women's basketball team scored the first five points of the game, went on a 14-0 run later in the first half and led by as many as 32 points in the second half of an eventual 59-35 victory by the Midshipmen over Holy Cross Wednesday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.
"Our defense was really solid," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper, who was coaching in her 150th game on the Navy sideline. "I loved our focus. It was a real credit to our defense, and our offense was good, too."
The win improves Navy's Patriot League-leading record to 8-1 this season. The Mids will play host to second-place Army (7-2) Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in Alumni Hall. The Black Knights handed Navy its lone league loss thus far this season.
Holy Cross saw its three-game winning streak come to an end tonight, a defeat that dropped its record to 4-5 in league play.
Alix Membreno (Jr., Loxahatchee, Fla.) started the Navy scoring with a three-point field goal 85 seconds into the game. Jade Geif (Jr., Lakeville, Minn.) soon followed with a short jumper to put the Mids in front, 5-0.
The Navy advantage was 12-8 when Audrey Bauer (Jr., Lake Zurich, Ill.) drilled a three-point field goal with 9:16 left in the first half. That triple ignited a 14-0 run by the Mids that gave them a 26-8 advantage with 3:11 showing on the clock. Included in the run were triples by Kara Pollinger (Jr., Fort Gay, W.Va.), Membreno and Erin Meador (So., Clifton, Va.) and a field goal by Geif.
Holy Cross ended an eight-minute scoring drought with a three-point field goal by Alex Smith with 2:09 left in the half. Navy would go into halftime holding a 28-13 advantage.
Navy dominated the glass in the first half of play. The Mids collected 20 of the 22 available rebounds on the Holy Cross end of the court, while gathering in 10 of the 23 caroms on Navy's offensive end. That gave the Mids a 30-15 advantage in rebounds and led to Navy holding an 11-2 lead in second-chance points.
Navy limited Holy Cross to 1 of 11 (9.1%) shooting from three-point range and a collective 6 of 28 (21.4%) effort from the field in the first half. Conversely, the Mids made 5 of 12 (41.7%) three-point attempts and were 11 of 33 (33.3%) in all shots taken from the floor.
The Mids put the game away for good early in the second half. Navy scored the first eight points of the frame -- the first five of which were tallied by Geif -- on its way to a 19-2 run in the opening nine minutes of the half. That gave Navy a 47-15 advantage over Holy Cross. In addition to the five points from Geif during the run, Bauer dropped in a pair of three-point field goals that were sandwiched around a jumper of hers.
Navy went the last four minutes of the game without scoring a point.
The win was Navy's largest over Holy Cross, bettering a 17-point win by the Mids three seasons ago. Navy also held Holy Cross, which entered the game scoring a league-best 60.6 points a game in league play, to its lowest point total against the Mids. The previous low for points scored by the Crusaders against Navy was 39, which was posted two years ago. Additionally, Navy improved to 9-2 against Holy Cross in the five seasons Pemper has been on the Navy sideline. This comes on the heels of Navy having tallied a 4-36 record against Holy Cross prior to her arrival.
Navy stepped up its shooting in the second half. The Mids made 5 of 10 (50.0%) three-point attempts after halftime and were 11 of 20 (55.0%) in all shots taken after intermission. Combined with the first half, Navy shot 41.5 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from three-point land.
Holy Cross would end the game shooting 25.5 percent from the floor, a mark that included a 14.3 percent effort from outside of the three-point arc.
Navy also held a 51-24 advantage on the glass. The lone statistical advantages for the Crusaders were in steals (11-4) and turnovers forced (20-12).
Membreno posted her second double-double of the season and third of her career with an 11-point, 11-rebound night in 30 minutes of playing time. Geif, who played just 24 minutes, led Navy with 13 points while pulling down four rebounds and dishing out three assists. Also reaching double figures was Bauer with 11 points in her 26 minutes on the court. Additionally, Pollinger scored nine points, dished out five assists and grabbed four rebounds, while Meador, who stepped into the starting lineup tonight due to an injury to Chloe Stapleton (So., Cary, N.C.), tallied a career-high eight rebounds and seven points.
"Erin was so much more confident tonight," said Pemper. "She played so much better tonight than she has been. Her footwork was better, her defense was better her shooting was better. She just knew we needed her.
"Kara was terrific tonight. I really like how she hit those late baskets, and she showed great leadership. Audrey was solid, as well."
Christine Ganser scored nine points to lead Holy Cross in the game.
Patriot League Standings
4-5 Holy Cross