ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Jade Geif led all scorers with 22 points to lead Navy (18-13) to a 57-48 victory over Holy Cross (18-14) in the championship game of the 2012 Patriot League Women's Basketball Tournament.
The Mids captured their second consecutive League crown, and head off to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. Navy will learn its NCAA first-round fate during the selection show Monday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Geif garnered Tournament MVP honors for the second straight season, as well, becoming the third back-to-back MVP in tournament history. She joins Anna Kinne of Holy Cross (2000-01) and Alex Ross of Lehigh (2009-10).
Geif was joined on the All-Tournament team from Navy by fellow sophomores Alix Membreno and Kara Pollinger. Membreno was also an All-Tournament selection last season.
Junior Amy Lepley and sophomore Alex Smith represented Holy Cross on the All-Tournament Team. The squad was rounded out by Lehigh senior Emily Gratch.
Membreno scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds with a game-high five steals, while Pollinger chipped in 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two thefts.
Holy Cross was led by Bri Malone's 13 points, four steals and three assists, while Smith tallied 12 points and Lepley added 11 with eight rebounds.
Navy became just the third No. 3 seed in history to capture the Patriot League champion. The Mids improved the No. 3 seed's record in the title game to 3-5. Holy Cross was bidding to be just the second No. 5 seed to win the League trophy.
After Navy struck first with the opening bucket, Holy Cross rattled off nine straight points. The Mids whittled the lead down multiple times but were unable to fully erase it. The Crusaders eventually took a 25-18 lead into halftime.
Navy was also trailing in the title game last season, as the Mids were behind American 30-18 at halftime.
Geif capped off an 8-0 run for Navy in the early stages of the second half with two straight field goals, the latter of which was part of a three-point play, to put the Mids up 28-27. Navy build a four-point lead shortly thereafter, but a 5-0 Holy Cross spurt put the Crusaders on top 37-36 with 13 minutes left in the contest.
Navy regained the lead on two free throws from Geif, and the advantage eventually ballooned to 43-37 just beyond the midway point of the second after a 3-pointer by Membreno.
Holy Cross trimmed the deficit to 45-40 with 8:05 left and 49-45 with 4:34 to go. The Crusaders continued hanging around, with Lepley's 3-pointer with 2:40 left bringing them within 53-48.
Geif essentially sealed the game for the Mids on their next possession. With the shot clock expiring, Geif heaved up an off-balance attempt from beyond the free throw line that rolled around the rim before falling. Navy's lead was 55-48 with 2:05 to go.
A big part of Navy's ability to take the lead in the second half was because of its defense. The Mids held Holy Cross without a field goal for a stretch of 8:34. After Smith's layup at the 13:09 mark, the Crusaders couldn't manage another successful attempt from the floor until Malone's jumper at the 4:34 mark. Including Lepley's 3 ball, the Crusaders had only three field goals in the final 13:09.
Navy outrebounded the Crusaders 40-30. After shooting 7 of 25 in the first half, the Mids bounced back to a 12-of-26 effort in the second to finish shooting 37.3 percent (19 of 51) for the game. Holy Cross shot 17 of 50 from the field, going just 6 of 25 in the second half after an 11-of-25 showing in the first 20 minutes.