CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - The Patriot League took one more step toward sorting out its seedings for the upcoming League Tournament next week, but it will take the final day of the regular season to officially wrap up all eight positions.
Navy defeated Lehigh at home and Army won big at Holy Cross Wednesday to maintain their one-game separation at the top of the standings. American's win at home over Bucknell reignited the Eagles' chances of hosting a home quarterfinal game, while Colgate's victory at Lafayette gave the Raiders a chance to climb out of eighth.
A full breakdown of potential seedings after Saturday's results will be released Thursday morning. However, here is a quick look at what can happen Saturday:
Navy clinches the regular-season title and the tournament's top overall seed with a win Saturday night at home over Bucknell (OR an Army loss earlier in the day to Lehigh). Army has wrapped up no worse than the No. 2 seed. Holy Cross and American would wrap up home quarterfinal games with wins Saturday against Colgate and Lafayette, respectively. Colgate would take the No. 6 seed with a win Saturday over Holy Cross, AND losses by BOTH Bucknell (to Navy) and Lafayette (to American).
In the meantime, the recaps of Wednesday's four games are below.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Jade Geif scored 18 points, Kara Pollinger chipped in 13 and Navy's defense held Lehigh to 27 percent shooting in the Mids' 49-34 victory Wednesday night at Alumni Hall.
Navy (18-10, 11-2) clinched at least a share of the Patriot League regular-season title, and will play for the outright crown plus the League Tournament's No. 1 seed Saturday when it visits Bucknell at 7 p.m.
Sarah Williams paced Lehigh with 10 points in 21 minutes off the bench, but the Mountain Hawk offense was clearly off kilter all night. Kerry Kinek, who is averaging 12.8 points per game in League play, was held to just two points, both from the foul line, as she was 0-for-7 from the field. Becky Guman had eight points and four rebounds for Lehigh (14-14, 6-7).
Navy jumped out to an 8-0 lead by the 15:18 mark of the first half, but the Mids' offense joined Lehigh in the deep freeze over the next several minutes. Lehigh broke an 0-for-14 stretch from the field to begin the game when Williams'3-pointer got the Mountain Hawks on the board with 8:11 to go, ending a scoreless stretch of 7:07.
Pollinger hit a bucket with 3:11 remaining to give Navy its first double-digit lead at 18-8, and the Mids took a 22-13 edge into the locker room.
Lehigh climbed within five points with a 6-2 spurt to open the second half, with Hilary Weaver's jumper to finish off a fast break brought the Mountain Hawks within 24-19 with 5:01 gone in the second.
Navy shot right back with nine straight points and ballooned it into a 16-2 run with Pollinger's trey giving the Mids a 40-21 lead with 7:16 on the clock. Navy cruised from there, never letting Lehigh get closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
Navy dropped 14 3-pointers in the programs' previous meeting Jan. 30 in Bethlehem, Pa. It was a different story this time around, with the Mids shooting just 20 percent (5 of 25) from beyond the arc. Navy posted a 42-40 edge in rebounding, including an 18-13 lead on the offensive glass.
Lehigh was 4 of 14 from downtown and 4 of 7 from the foul line.
WORCESTER, Mass. - Army clinched itself no worse than the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament after Anna Simmers netted a game-high 21 points to lead the Black Knights to a commanding 62-35 victory over Holy Cross Wednesday night at the Hart Center.
Kelsey Minato added 12 points and five assists for Army (21-7, 10-3), which reached double-digit wins in League play for the first time since 2006-07.
Alex Smith led Holy Cross (15-13, 7-6) with 16 points, but all of them came in the first half. Molly Hourigan was the Crusaders' next-highest scorer with five points, and Amy Lepley hauled in six rebounds. Holy Cross was without junior Brisje Malone, who was not available due to illness.
Army's defense forced Holy Cross into a staggering 31 turnovers, while the Black Knights committed just eight themselves. Army posted a commanding 26-6 advantage in points off those miscues.
Ashley Cooper's 3-pointer gave Holy Cross its first lead at 8-7 at the 16:09 mark. The Crusaders built a five-point advantage on a Smith 3-pointer, part of 11 consecutive Crusader points scored by the junior guard. The last of her 11 during that spurt put Holy Cross up 19-11 at the 9:10 mark of the first.
Olivia Schretzman capped off a 13-0 Army run with two straight baskets to give the Black Knights a 23-19 advantage. The Crusaders rallied back to tie the game twice in the final minutes of the first half, but Minato's 3-pointer with 1:05 left was enough to give Army a 29-27 lead at halftime.
Army edged out to a 32-29 lead 3:21 into the second, and then orchestrated a 9-0 run. Schretzman and Simmers hit buckets and Minato sank a 3-pointer to get it going, helping lift the Black Knights to a 41-29 lead at the 12:03 mark.
Raquel Scott's layup cut the Army advantage to 42-32 at the 9:29 mark, but the Black Knight put together another spurt, this one 9-1, to move in front 51-33 with 5:21 to go. Simmers drilled back-to-back buckets, and Minato followed up with another 3-pointer.
Holy Cross went without a point in the game's final 4:10. Army outscored the Crusaders 20-3 over the last 9:29.
Army finished just shy of 41 percent (24 of 59) for the game, and hit 8 of 20 from the 3-point line, with Simmers and Minato accounting for three each. Holy Cross shot 9 of 18 in the first half but was only 3 of 15 in the second to finish at 36.4 percent for the game.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Geleisa George paced American with a career-best 17 points and Alexis Dobbs added 11 points and six rebounds in the Eagles' 53-42 victory over visiting Bucknell Wednesday night at Bender Arena.
Shelby Romine led Bucknell (13-15, 4-9) with 11 points, all in the second half, and Lindsay Horbatuck hauled in a game-best 11 rebounds. The Bison dropped their eighth straight game, while American improved to 14-13 and 7-6 in the Patriot League.
Sarah Kiely gave American an early 12-6 lead on a 3-pointer at the 14:05 mark. The Eagles methodically put together a half-closing 13-3 run that spanned nearly 10 minutes, with Dobbs and George leading them to a 30-15 halftime advantage.
Audrey Dotson's bucket brought Bucknell within 34-22 less than five minutes into the second, while Alyssa Dunn completed a three-point play and Tyler Craig hit 1 of 2 from the foul line to cut the Eagles' lead to 10 with 12:10 on the clock.
The Eagles replied with a 10-0 run, with George providing eight of the points, to take a 46-26 lead at the 8:28 mark.
The Bison answered with a 13-3 run of their own, with Dotson capping it off to make it a 49-39 game with under four minutes to play. American regained control with five straight points over the game's next 1:20 to put it away.
American shot 36.5 percent for the game, and hung on despite hitting just seven field goals after halftime. Bucknell was 5 of 26 in the first half from the floor, but shot just over 41 percent in the second half to finish at 30 percent for the game.
The Eagles outscored Bucknell 15-0 from the 3-point line, with the latter going 0-for-7.
EASTON, Pa. - Buckets were at a premium and defense was plentiful, and in the end Colgate outlasted Lafayette 39-37 Wednesday night at Kirby Sports Center.
Watch below for comments from Colgate head coach Nicci Hays Fort after the game.
Jhazmine Lynch rebounded from Saturday's scoreless outing with a team-high 11 points for the Raiders (9-19, 3-10), who gave themselves an opportunity to reach as high as the sixth seed in next week's Patriot League Tournament with a win Saturday at home against Holy Cross.
Josie Stockill added eight points for Colgate, while Lulu Brase collected seven rebounds.
Danielle Fiacco led Lafayette (11-17, 4-9) with 11 points, seven rebounds and seven blocks, while Emily Homan grabbed 10 boards, blocked five shots and scored six points. Maddie Peabody had seven points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Lafayette led 8-6 midway through the first and edged ahead 15-10 with 5:30 to go until the half on a Jamie O'Hare 3-pointer. Lauryn Kobiela and Paige Kritcher sank back-to-back treys to give the Raiders a 16-15 lead before the Leopards on Peabody's jumper 34 seconds later. Lafayette had a slim 19-17 advantage at the intermission.
Stockill tied the game at 22 when she went 1 of 2 from the foul line, and Catherine Lewis gave Colgate a 25-22 lead at the 14:47 mark with a 3-pointer from just to the left of the top of the arc. It took nearly three and a half minutes for the next score, but Lewis struck again with a trey to give the Raiders their biggest lead of the game at 28-22.
Lafayette fought back to tie the game exclusively on free throws, with Brya Freeland sinking two straight from the line to knot the game at 30-all with 7:45 to go. Peabody's basket less than a minute later finished off a methodical 10-2 Leopard run, giving them a two point lead with under seven minutes to go.
Colgate replied with six straight points, with Kobiela scoring on a drive after a Lynch dish to give the Raiders a 36-32 lead with 3:32 to play.
Peabody struck again with a triple, and Fiacco went 2 of 2 at the line to give the Leopards a slim 37-36 margin at the 2:45 mark.
Lynch missed a jumper on Colgate's next possession. Homan came down with the board for Lafayette, but she turned it over shortly thereafter. Lewis was credited with the steal, and Lynch wound up with the ball and the layup to put Colgate up 38-37 with 2:26 left.
The Leopards had several cracks at the bucket in the waning moments, including two tries in the paint, one each from Fiacco and Homan, but neither would go. Stockill collected the rebound off the second miss, was fouled and hit 1 of 2 from the line with three seconds left.
Freeland's running 3-point attempt from just inside half court bounced off the side of the rim.
Both teams combined to shoot a paltry 12 of 53 in the first half. Lafayette was 7 of 24 in the first 20 minutes, but the Raider defense stymied it into a 2-of-24 showing in the second to finish at 18.8 percent for the game. Colgate was 14 of 59 for the game (23.7 percent). Lafayette outscored Colgate at the line 17-7.