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Hot Shooting Early, Strong Defense Late Keys Mids to Win

Alix Membreno

Nov. 20, 2012

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- A potent first-half offense coupled with a bend-but-don't-break defensive effort in the second half resulted in the Navy women's basketball team winning a 71-60 decision over Loyola Tuesday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.

"This was a really good win for us," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper, whose team had lost two games to Loyola over the last two seasons by a total of seven points. "Even though we have four returning starters, we are a new team and we needed to find some confidence. A performance like this helps with that."

The Mids (2-2) quickly scored points on each of their first four possessions of the game in taking leads of 8-0 and 10-2. Kara Pollinger (Jr., Fort Gay, W.Va.) and Audrey Bauer (Jr., Lake Zurich, Ill.) connected on back-to-back three-point field goals to start the game, then Jade Geif (Jr., Lakeville, Minn.) scored on consecutive inside jumpers to account for Navy's opening 10 points of the game. A Loyola (1-3) field goal by Alyssa Sutherland made the score 10-4, but a short while later Bauer and Erin Meador (So., Clifton, Va.) sank three-point field goals on consecutive trips down the floor to give Navy a 16-4 lead five minutes into the game.

The score would be 19-9 in favor of the Mids less than one minute later, but an 8-2 run Navy gave it a 27-11 advantage. A three-point field goal by Loyola's Diana Logan was then followed by a three-point field goal from Rebecca Richmond (Fr., Superior, Colo.), a jumper by Peri Curtis (Fr., Coronado, Calif.) and a jumper from Alix Membreno (Jr., Loxahatchee, Fla.) to increase Navy's advantage out to 20 points at 34-14 with nine minutes remaining in the first half.

Loyola whittled the margin down to 12 points at 36-24 and had a shot to cut into it even more. That carom was snapped up by Geif, who was foul during the attempt. Her two free throws on the other end of the court started another 8-0 run for Navy that took the lead back to 20 points at 44-24 with one minute showing on the clock before halftime.

One season after scoring just 38 points in the entire game against Loyola (a 42-38 loss in Baltimore), the Mids headed into the Alumni Hall locker room at halftime holding a 45-28 advantage.

The 45 points scored by the Mids is the most tallied by a Navy team in the first half under Pemper, bettering the 43 points scored against NJIT at the start of this calendar year, and tied the mark for the most points scored by a Navy team in either half of play (45 in the second half at Maine in Nov. of 2010) under the fifth-year head coach.

"I loved how we came out tonight," said Pemper. "We shot the ball with a lot of confidence. For the most part, it was a good first half."

"I think we came out strong today knowing Loyola is a really good team and it was going to take a lot to win the game," said Bauer. "Shooting-wise, we had some great looks off of really good passes. Jade kicking it out, or others looking for one more pass; things like that really helped us."

Navy shot a sizzling 53.6 percent from the field and made 7 of 14 three-point field goal attempts over the opening 20 minutes of play. Loyola's offense wasn't exactly struggling as the Greyhounds connected on nearly 36 percent of their field goal attempts in the half. Aiding the effort by the Mids was a 12-0 advantage in points scored following turnovers.

As hot as the Navy offense was in the first half, it was that cool at the start of the second half. The Mids misfired on 10 of their first 11 shots from the floor to start the frame. Conversely, Loyola sank half of their first 10 field goal attempts in the opening minutes. Those efforts combined to allow Loyola to quickly shave 10 points off of Navy's 17-point halftime cushion and pull to within 47-40 with well over 13 minutes remaining on the clock.

Navy finally made its second field goal of the second half with 10:18 left to play, and that layup by Membreno gave the Mids a 50-43 lead. Kara Marshall would make a free throw for the Greyhounds to make the score 50-44 with nine minutes left to play. That was followed by perhaps the saving moments of the second half for the Mids.

Membreno drilled a three-point field goal on Navy's next trip down the floor. M.L. Morrison (Jr., Southlake, Texas) then grabbed a errant Loyola shot on the ensuing possession, which led to a three-point field goal by Bauer to take the Navy lead back to double digits at 56-44. Bauer then snared a defensive rebound to end Loyola's next possession, with that leading to a layup for Morrison to make the score 58-44 with 7:27 remaining in the game.

Loyola would close to within nine points of Navy on three occasions -- 60-51, 62-53, 64-55 -- but the latter score was followed by, consecutively, Bauer's fourth three-pointer of the game, a Bauer defensive rebound and a pair of Bauer free throws. Her two points from the charity stripe gave Navy a 69-55 advantage with just under two minutes showing on the clock.

Navy made just eight field goals in the second half (32.0% shooting), but held Loyola to 11 field goals (44.0%) in the frame. The Mids also were 7 of 10 from the free throw line (Loyola was 8 of 9) after halftime while forcing the Greyhounds into five second-half turnovers and committing just four of their own.

Navy would shoot 43.4 percent from the field for the full 40 minutes and sink 10 three-point field goals on 25 attempts (40.0%). Tonight marked the 19th time a Navy team made at least 10 three-point field goals in a game during Pemper's 130-game coaching career at Navy. The Navy program had made at least 10 triples in a game only 18 times in the first 581 games of the three-point line's existence prior to Pemper's arrival on The Yard.

Navy also held a 36-32 advantage over Loyola on the glass. Additionally, the Mids were credited with an assist on each of their 23 field goals made. That passing allowed four Mids to score in double figures.

Bauer, who entered tonight's game having scored 20 points in the first three games of the year, erupted for a career-high tying 18 points against the Greyhounds. After starting the year 4 of 13 from three-point land, Bauer was 4 of 8 from beyond the arc tonight.

"Audrey had a ton of shots in our last game against Saint Peter's (2 of 11 from three-point range)," said Pemper, "but nothing could go in for her. She was just hitting tonight."

"I wasn't really concerned about my shooting," said Bauer. "As long as others were hitting, I was fine. My shot felt good tonight, but I wasn't really worried. Some great passes tonight were a big part of the success I had."

Geif posted her first double-double of the season and the 11th of her career with a 13-point, 10-rebound effort in only 27 minutes of playing time due to some foul trouble.

Membreno scored 12 points, dished out six assists and snared four rebounds while playing equally well on the defensive end of the court.

"Alix gave us some really tough minutes," said Pemper. "Katie Sheahin was picked as the pre-season player of the year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, so Alix had to guard her most of the night (Sheahin was held to 5 of 13 shooting and 12 points)."

Pollinger reached double figures in points for the third time in four games this season with 13 points. She also matched Membreno's playmaking statistic with six helpers.

Morrison played just 17 minutes of the game, but made the most out of her limited time with a seven-point, seven-rebound outing. This included a 3 of 4 mark from the foul line for the game.

Navy will now take to the road for a pair of games at the Houston Baptist Tournament on Friday (UC Davis) and Saturday (Jackson State) and a Monday night game at Air Force.



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