Holy Cross to Visit Navy Saturday for Patriot League Women's Basketball Championship

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Audrey Bauer's 3-pointer with 1:06 to go took the wind out of Lehigh's sails and sent No. 3 Navy to the Patriot League championship game after a 64-59 win over the Mountain Hawks Monday night.
Audrey Bauer's 3-pointer with 1:06 to go took the wind out of Lehigh's sails and sent No. 3 Navy to the Patriot League championship game after a 64-59 win over the Mountain Hawks Monday night.

March 5, 2012

2012 Patriot League Women's Basketball Tournament Central

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - For just the second time ever in Patriot League Women's Basketball Tournament history and the first since 1997, the two lower seeded teams both captured victories in the semifinals Monday night, sending fifth-seeded Holy Cross and No. 3 seed Navy to Saturday's Patriot League title game.

The championship contest will tip off at 6 p.m. Saturday night from Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md., and will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. Bob Socci will handle the play-by-play, while Leah Secondo will be the analyst.

Navy is the first defending League champion to make it back to the title game since Lehigh in 2010. That year the Mountain Hawks repeated as League titlists. It marks the second straight year the tournament's No. 3 seed has made the championship game, as American advanced there a season ago.

On the other side, No. 5 Holy Cross is the first from that seed position to make it to the title game since Bucknell in 2008. The Bison, coincidentally, upended the Crusaders in the title game to capture the crown. That's also the last time Holy Cross made an appearance in the championship final, with their last trophy coming the year before in 2007.

Navy will be playing for just its second ever League championship, while Holy Cross is aiming for its 12th. The winner of Saturday's contest earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Holy Cross and Navy have met twice before in the Patriot League championship game, with the Crusaders owning a 2-0 edge. Holy Cross won 67-60 in 1998 and 72-58 in 1999. Both games were played in Worcester, Mass.

No. 5 Holy Cross 67, No. 1 American 52;
Box Score | Video Highlights

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Junior second-team All-Patriot League performer Amy Lepley led all scorers with a career-high 24 points to lead fifth-seeded Holy Cross (18-13) to a stunning 67-52 upset of top-seeded American in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament at Bender Arena Monday evening.

The loss ended the Eagles' program-best 15-game win streak. Before Monday, American had not suffered a defeat since Jan. 2 versus George Washington.

Lepley was the only Crusader to reach double figures in points. Ashley Cooper had nine points, all of which came from beyond the arc, while Bri Malone had seven points, nine rebounds and six assists.

All-Rookie Team member Jen Dumiak led American with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Patriot League Player of the Year Lisa Strack was held to just three points on 1-of-14 shooting. Tor Halvorsen and Sarah Kiely each pitched in six points for the Eagles (23-7), who will find out their draw in the WNIT late Monday evening after the announcement of the NCAA Tournament bracket.

Alexis Dobbs' layup 1:05 into the game put American on the board first, but the Crusaders scored the next 10 points to take an eight-point lead four minutes in. The lead ballooned to 22-10 after Malone's jumper at the 12:28 mark, and the score remained there for nearly the next four minutes until Dumiak scored to make it a 22-12 game with 8:42 remaining in the first half.

The Crusaders scored the next 10 points and eventually took a 32-15 lead into halftime.

Lepley and Ashley Cooper sank back-to-back 3-pointers for Holy Cross to put the Crusaders ahead 44-22 with 14:11 left in the second.

American tried mounting a run with about seven minutes left. Dobbs and Dumiak combined for consecutive 3-pointers during an 8-2 Eagle run that brought them within 58-39 with 6:45 left, forcing a Holy Cross timeout.

Lepley sank a layup after the stoppage to help the Crusaders re-establish control. Holy Cross scored seven of the next nine points after the timeout to move in front 65-41 with over four minutes remaining.

Holy Cross finished the game shooting 50 percent (25 of 50) overall and 50 percent (7 of 14) from deep. The Crusaders collected assists on 22 of their 25 buckets.

American shot 18 of 62 (29 percent) for the game and just 5 of 25 (20 percent) from beyond the arc.

No. 3 Navy 64, No. 2 Lehigh 59;
Box Score | Video Highlights

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Jade Geif and Erin Edwards tied for the team lead with 13 points apiece to lead all five Navy starters in double figures as the third-seeded Mids (17-13) won their third in a row and tallied a 64-59 victory at No. 2 seed Lehigh (17-13) Monday night at Stabler Arena.

Kara Pollinger scored 12 points, Audrey Bauer pitched in 11 and Alix Membreno added 10 points for the defending League champions, who will host No. 5 seed Holy Cross Saturday at 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. The winner heads to the NCAA Tournament.

For the second straight year, Lehigh's season ends in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament with a five-point loss at home.

Of the 11 points she scored, none were bigger than those that came on her 3-pointer with 1:06 remaining in the game. Navy led 61-59 at the time and had just forced a Lehigh turnover. Navy set up its offense, and Pollinger wheeled the ball to an open Bauer just to the left of the top of the arc.

Marybeth Egan notched a career-high 15 points in 27 minutes off the bench to lead the Mountain Hawks. Senior Emily Gratch finished with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and a pair of blocks. Senior Alexa Williams finished just 2 of 10 from the floor with five points, eight rebounds and a rejection.

Both teams shot well in the first half, especially from beyond the arc, as the two combined to go 13 of 20 on 3-pointers. Lehigh was 6 of 9 from deep, while Navy was 7 of 11 in the first 20 minutes.

The Mids used the 3 to build a first-half lead, as Bauer, Edwards and Pollinger each sank a trey and Chantel Lavender hit a long deuce to give Navy a 31-20 lead with 4:26 left in the first. Lehigh replied with a pair of 3s of its own, both from Egan in the final 1:19, to bring the Mountain Hawks within 33-28 at the half.

Kelly Peterson's bucket tied the game at 38 apiece at the 16:44 mark of the second half, and the host Mountain Hawks took their first lead of the second frame at 42-40 with 15:17 on the clock after a Gratch layup and free throw to complete a three-point play.

Membreno's triple just beyond the midway point of the second half knotted the game at 47, marking the sixth time the teams had been tied.

Lehigh moved ahead once more at the 6:08 mark on another Gratch layup, taking a 54-53 advantage. Navy replied again with a Membreno basket to go in front by one before the Mountain Hawks took the lead back on another Gratch lay in.

Egan sank her fourth trey of the game at the 1:59 mark to tie the contest at 59. Pollinger's bucket on Navy's next possession put the defending champions ahead by two, setting up Lehigh's turnover and Bauer's dagger trey.

Navy finished the game shooting 43.6 percent (24 of 55) and 50 percent (9 of 18) from beyond the arc. Lehigh was 9 of 21 on treys (42.9 percent) and 22 of 61 (36.1 percent) from the floor for the game.

Navy took care of the ball, committing only seven turnovers in the game and yielding one steal to the Mountain Hawks. The Mids turned 14 Lehigh miscues into 20 points.