ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Kara Pollinger led all scorers with a game-high and tournament final-record 24 points and Chloe Stapleton netted 19 as Navy ran away from Holy Cross 72-53 to claim the 2012-13 Patriot League Women's Basketball championship Saturday night at Alumni Hall.
The second-seeded Mids (21-11) become the second team to win three straight League crowns, joining Holy Cross, which captured four in a row from 1998 to 2001.
Navy will find out its NCAA Tournament fate Monday during the NCAA selection show on ESPN starting at 7 p.m.
Navy junior Alix Membreno was named Tournament MVP, and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by teammates Pollinger, Stapleton and Jade Geif, the 2011 and '12 MVP.
Membreno totaled 38 points, 28 rebounds and 21 points in the tournament, nearly averaging a triple-double. She scored 10 points with seven dishes and six boards in Saturday night's final.
Fourth seed Holy Cross (18-14) was represented by Alex Smith and Brisje Malone. Maleon led the Crusaders with 17 points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds, while Smith scored 10 points but was limited to 4-of-18 from the field, including 2-of-11 from beyond the arc.
The Crusaders held the lead just twice, jumping ahead 7-5 on a Smith triple and 9-7 on another Smith bucket. The latter of those two instances came at the 14:54 mark of the first half.
It was mostly Navy from there. Pollinger converted an and-one opportunity to kick off a 12-0 run for the Midshipmen, which was finished off by back-to-back Stapleton 3s.
Malone hit a jumper to cut the Mids' lead to 23-17, but Stapleton replied right back for the Mids with another trey. Navy used a late 7-0 run that Holy Cross' Raquel Scott snapped with 49 seconds remaining in the half, but the Mids had built a 33-21 lead at the intermission.
Malone struck again for the Crusaders with a 3-pointer to open the second half to cut Navy's lead to nine, and later Smith drilled another trey at the 14:26 mark as the shot clock expired to bring Holy Cross within 39-33.
But Navy replied with what proved to be two back-breaking 3s in succession, with Stapleton and Pollinger teaming up again to put Navy ahead 45-33 with 11:49 remaining.
The Crusaders had one final push, with Ashley Cooper's trey bringing them within 50-42 at the 9:52 mark, but Navy scored an 8-0 run with Audrey Bauer finished it off with one of her team's 13 triples on the night. The Mids were up 58-42 with 7:35 left and never saw the lead dip below 12 the rest of the way.
The 13 made 3-pointers were just two shy of the tournament single-game record of 15 set by Navy in the 2010 quarterfinals versus Colgate.
Both teams were able to take care of the ball, but Navy was the most opportunistic, turning 12 Crusader turnovers into 22 points. Holy Cross had a narrow 24-20 edge in points in the paint, while the Crusader bench outscored its counterpart 18-2.
Navy finished the game just shy of 45 percent (26-of-58) and a hot 13-of-29 (45 percent) from the 3-point line. Holy Cross managed to shoot just 4-of-20 (20 percent) from beyond the arc and went 21-of-59 (36 percent) for the game. The two teams combined for 49 3-point attempts, just three shy of the tournament game record.