ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Balanced efforts throughout the final statistics led the Navy women's basketball team to post a 61-50 victory over Siena Wednesday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis. The win, the fourth in a row for the Mids, improved Navy's record to 5-3 on the season, while the Saints saw their mark fall to 1-5 on the year with the loss.
Navy's four-game winning streak matches the longest run of non-league wins by the program over the last nine years. Additionally, Navy has won four consecutive games by double figures for the first time since winning six games in row by at least 10 points during the 1997-98 season.
Tonight, the Mids saw four players score in double figures, four sink at least two three-point field goals, four grab seven or more boards and four dish out at least two assists.
"One of my keys to tonight's game was having a balanced attack, and who knew we could do that with Jade Geif (So., Lakeville, Minn.) not being one of our four players to score in double figures," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. "Siena did a nice job on Jade, but I also think we did a nice job on their star player, Lily Grenci (3-of-11 shooting). I thought our defense was pretty solid all night. Take away those last two three-pointers they hit right at the end of the game and they score 44 points."
Siena quickly built an 8-2 lead at the start of the game, with Navy just as quickly reeling in the Saints on a three-point field goal from Audrey Bauer (So., Lake Zurich, Ill.) that tied the game at 10-10. After Siena scored five consecutive points to tie the game again at 19-19, the Mids scored on six of their final nine possessions of the first half to close the frame on a 14-0 run and take a 33-19 lead into halftime.
Erin Edwards (Sr., Hockessin, Del.) started the half-closing sprint with a three-point field goal. After a missed shot by Siena, Kara Pollinger (So., Fort Gay, W.Va.) grabbed an offensive carom and fed Bauer for another three-point field goal to give the Mids a 25-19 lead. Another missed shot by the Sains was followed by Alix Membreno (So., Loxahatchee, Fla.) scoring on a layup to boost the Navy margin to eight points.
Both teams would miss shots on their next respective trips down the court, then Edwards tallied a steal to return possession back to the Mids. That would lead to Jen Penley (Jr., Pfafftown, N.C.) being fouled while attempting a shot. She would sink one of her two free throw attempts. Penley would be involved on the next Siena offensive possession as she ended it with one of her four blocked shots on the night. Membreno snared the carom and soon found Edwards open for her third three-point field goal of the half with just over 90 seconds remaining before halftime. Neither team scored on several quick trips down the court, then Membreno closed out the scoring in the half on a jumper with 20 seconds remaining before the break.
Siena made seven field goals in the first half, while Navy sank six three-point goals and 12 shots in all during the opening 20 minutes of the game.
Navy was able to extend its lead to as many as 18 points on a pair of occasions in the second half -- 43-25 and 45-27 -- before Siena whittled the margin down to 10 points at 49-39 with a little more than five minutes remaining before the end of the game. Any thoughts of a further rally by the Saints were ended when Chey Arvin (Jr., Noblesville, Ind.) and Edwards drilled consecutive three-point field goals -- sandwiched around a pair of Siena free throws -- to give the Mids a 55-41 lead with 2:45 left in the contest.
The Mids saw their shooting cool off somewhat after halftime. After connecting on 44.4 percent of its field goal attempts in the first half, Navy shot a still warm 38.5 percent from the floor in the second half. The Mids remained solid from outside of the three-point arc over the final 20 minutes of play as they made four of nine three-point attempts in the second half.
With 10 three-point field goals made on the night, the Mids have now made 22 treys over the last two games. That's after the Mids made a total of 30 three pointers in Navy's first six games of the season.
"It was not much fun sitting out several games," said Edwards, who missed three games due to a concussion. "Our team has done a nice job of stepping up lately and hitting a lot of shots, and that is great to see whether I am on the court or not. It has just been nice to be able to contribute and be part of this together."
Meanwhile, Siena shot 32.3 percent from the floor in the second half to end the game connecting on 29.8 percent of its shots for the full game. Helping hold the Siena offense to its low shooting mark were the six blocked shots tallied by the Mids.
Navy also controlled the glass on the night. The Mids doubled the number of offensive rebounds gathered in by the Saints -- 16-8 -- and held an overall advantage of 49-27 on the boards.
Membreno established a new career high for scoring in the game as she finished with a Navy-best 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and a 2-of-4 effort from beyond the three-point arc. Edwards connected on all four of her three-point attempts in the game to end the contest with 14 points. Additionally, both Bauer and Arvin scored 10 points on the night. Bauer, Arvin and Pollinger all finished the game with a pair of three-point field goals made.
Membreno also led the way for the Mids on the glass as she hauled in a team-high eight boards in the game. Pollinger, Bauer and Geif each grabbed seven boards apiece over the course of the night. Additionally, Pollinger dished out four assists, while Bauer, Geif and Membreno each finished the game with two helpers.
"Alix has been awesome," said Edwards. "No matter what she does, she brings so much energy to the court. That is not something everyone has. Her defense has always been great, but she has worked on her shot and that has given her a lot of all-around confidence. She is just a great player to be on the court with."
"This team, so far, is easy to coach," said Pemper. "At the start of the second half we were riding the peaks and valleys of Alix. She would make a great defensive play but then she would come down on offense and not make a great play. So I said that to the team and right after that Alix had a great four minutes. She really settled it out. That's what I like about this team; they are really receptive and want to be successful."
Geif entered the game leading Navy with a scoring average of 11.6 points per game this season, but managed only three shots from the field tonight and finished the game with just two points which ties her career low (originally set last year against Siena in her first collegiate game).
"Even if Jade is not scoring, she is such a threat and that helps all of us get shots," said Edwards. "Plus she has really worked on her passing out of the post and has been able to get the rest of us some great looks at the basket."
Navy will close out its five-game homestand Friday night when the Mids play host to Princeton at 7 p.m.