March 20, 2013
Patriot League 2013 Women's Basketball Postseason Preview
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — For the seventh consecutive season the Patriot League is sending two teams to the postseason, with champion Navy heading to the NCAA Tournament and Army earning a berth in the WNIT.
For one, the postseason has become a familiar location; for the other, it is an unfamiliar destination.
Navy won its third straight Patriot League championship with Saturday’s 72-53 victory over Holy Cross. The Mids joined the Crusaders as the only ones to capture three consecutive League titles and the accompanying NCAA Tournament berths. On Selection Monday on ESPN, Navy found out it is heading to Queens, N.Y., as the No. 15 seed in the Bridgeport Region to take on second-seeded Kentucky Sunday in the NCAA’s first round. Tip off is set for 12:05 p.m. from Carnesecca Arena on the campus of St. John’s University, and the game will be televised on ESPNU.
Army clinched a share of the League’s regular-season title with Navy and was the Patriot League’s top tournament seed. The Black Knights were stunned by No. 8 Colgate in the quarterfinals, and will look to pick up the program’s first Division I postseason victory level Thursday when they visit Fordham at 7 p.m. in the WNIT’s first round. Army is in the postseason for the first time since 2006, when it won its only League crown and advanced to the NCAA Tournament under head coach Maggie Dixon.
PATRIOT LEAGUE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL POSTSEASON QUICK HITS
• American (WNIT), Holy Cross (WBI) and Navy (NCAA) advanced to the postseason a year ago. The Crusaders secured the League’s first postseason win since 1991 with a first-round triumph over New Hampshire.
• Navy and Kentucky are meeting for the first time Sunday.
• Army and Fordham are old rivals dating back to the latter’s days in the Patriot League, and both programs’ time in the MAAC. Thursday will be their first meeting since 1994-95 and 24th overall.
• Army and Navy are 1-2 in the League in scoring defense. In addition, the Black Knights are seventh nationally (51.1) and the Mids 13th (51.7).
• Navy hit 13 3-pointers in Saturday’s championship win over Holy Cross. The Mids rank 21st in the nation averaging 7.4 per game.
• Army (13.4 per game) and Navy (14.2) are the League’s two teams least likely to turn the ball over. The Black Knights are 18th in Division I, while the Mids are 44th.
• Florida defeated Holy Cross in December in the only matchup between the Patriot League and the SEC this season.
• The Patriot League went 3-8 against Atlantic 10 teams, including a 1-2 mark against Fordham. Lafayette won in Bronx, N.Y., in late December, while the Rams posted wins over American and Holy Cross.
Patriot League Postseason Notebook
NAVY COMPLETES THE THREE-PEAT
It had only been done once before, but when Saturday was all said and done there was a second. Navy’s 72-53 win over Holy Cross in front of a national television audience on CBS Sports Network delivered the Mids their third consecutive Patriot League championship, and sent them to the NCAA Tournament for the third time. Holy Cross is the only other program to win three titles in a row when it captured four straight from 1998-2001.
TOP SEEDS CONTINUE DOMINANCE
Navy became the 21st higher-seeded team in 23 championship games to capture the title tilt with Saturday’s triumph over Holy Cross. The Mids also became just the third No. 2 seed to secure the League crown, while the Crusaders were only the second No. 4 seed to ever advance to the title game. The better seeds have also wreaked havoc at home, as Navy improved the hosts’ record to 20-2 all-time in the League championship game.
IT MATTERS AT THE TURN
Does it matter being in first place at the turn? Navy added another piece of the evidence that maybe it does. The Mids entered the second leg of League play in first place at 6-1 for the second time in the last three years before finishing with an 11-3 mark. Navy claimed the first of their three straight titles in 2011 after hitting the turn with just one League loss, and this year repeated that feat. Six of the last 11 League champions were at least tied for first place at the turn, and three since 2006: Navy (2011, 2013) and Lehigh (2009). Holy Cross (2003, 2005) and Colgate (2004) were also no worse than tied for first at the midway point before capturing the League crown that March.
SEEKING TO WRITE HISTORY
Army heads to Fordham Thursday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the WNIT, the program’s first postseason berth since its NCAA trip in 2006. The Black Knights look to overcome the disappointment of becoming just the second No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament to fall in the quarterfinals. Army brings plenty of firepower into its contest with the Rams Player and Rookie of the Year Kelsey Minato, Defensive Player of the Year Anna Simmers and All-Rookie selection Aimee Oertner. A win Thursday would be Army’s first in program history, the third for any League team and set up a possible second-round matchup with future Patriot League member Boston University.
UNDERCLASSMEN PROVIDING THE SCORING
Entering the postseason 18 of the Patriot League’s top 20 scorers are underclassmen. The lone seniors are Army’s Anna Simmers (2nd, 13.7) and Colgate’s Jhazmine Lynch (16th, 9.5). Holy Cross junior Alex Smith is currently tops averaging 14.5 points per game. In addition, two freshmen are in the top 10 in Lehigh’s Kerry Kinek and Army’s Kelsey Minato at 12.8 per game.
SUCCESSFUL NON-LEAGUE SHOWINGS
The eight Patriot League teams finished off one of their best non-conference showings in some time, putting together a 63-56 mark against out-of-conference foes. That record far surpasses last season’s final 49-72 showing, which included Holy Cross’ win in the first round of the WBI over New Hampshire. Strong showings have been had this season against the Northeast Conference (14-8), Ivy League (11-6) and MAAC (10-8).
DOBBS DOES IT AGAIN
American junior guard Alexis Dobbs was named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year in women’s basketball for the second straight season, becoming the third straight student-athlete to capture the nod in consecutive years. American’s Liz Hayes did it in 2007 and ‘08 before Army’s Erin Anthony captured three consecutive trophies from 2009-11. Dobbs made history earlier this season as American women’s basketball’s first two-time first-team CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District selection. She and teammate Jen Dumiak, who also earned first-team Academic All-District honors, were both named to the Academic All-League team.
ON TWITTER, TOO
Fans and media members can follow Patriot League women’s basketball on Twitter - @PL_WBB.
Patriot League Postseason Preview
#15 NAVY MIDSHIPMEN (21-11, 11-3 PL) VS. #2 KENTUCKY WILDCATS (27-5, 13-4 SEC)
Carnesecca Arena (5,602); Queens, N.Y. • Sunday, 12:05 p.m. • Bridgeport Region (NCAA Tournament) • First Round
Series: First Meeting TV: ESPNU
• Navy and Kentucky are meeting for the first time in history Sunday in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
• The Mids last faced an SEC foe Nov. 27, 2010, when they fell 52-43 to Florida in a game played in Bangor, Maine.
• Navy is 1-2 all-time against SEC teams. The sole victory was over Mississippi Dec. 20, 1998 in Annapolis, Md. (74-71).
• Navy will tie Lehigh for the second-most NCAA Tournament appearances by a League team Sunday with its third.
• Jade Geif (13.1) is the team’s leading scorer and is the League’s best shooter from the floor (53.8%).
• Kara Pollinger leads the League in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8) and is third in assists (3.8).
NAVY 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 become the second team to win three straight League crowns, joining Holy Cross, which captured four in a row from 1998 to 2001 ... 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 ... The Crusaders held the lead just twice, jumping ahead 7-5 on an Alex 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... Brisje 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 ... Both teams were able to take care of the ball, but Navy was the most opportunistic, turning 12 Crusader turnovers into 22 points.
ARMY BLACK KNIGHTS (22-8, 11-3 PL) AT FORDHAM RAMS (24-8, 12-2 A10)
Rose Hill Gym (3,200); Bronx, N.Y. • Thursday, 7 p.m. • WNIT First Round
Series: Fordham, 15-8
Streak: Fordham, 9 Last Meeting: Fordham, 63-42 (West Point, N.Y.; 3.3.1995)
Last Army Win: 77-60 (West Point, N.Y.; 2.22.1992) Last Five Games: Fordham, 5-0
• Army will be the eighth Patriot League representative in the WNIT, joining American (2008-10, 12), Holy Cross (2002), Bucknell (2007) and Lehigh (2011).
• League teams are 0-7 all-time in the WNIT after American dropped a 58-39 decision at Villanova last year.
• The Black Knights’ last win over Fordham came Feb. 22, 1992, a 77-60 win at West Point, N.Y.
• Thursday’s winner faces either Boston University or Sacred Heart in the second round March 23-25.
ARMY Jhazmine Lynch scored 11 of her game-high 15 points in the first half and Army shot just 5 of 30 after the intermission as eighth-seeded Colgate stunned No. 1 Army 48-40 in the Patriot League Quarterfinal at Christl Arena March 7 ... Anna Simmers led Army with 13 points, eight rebounds and four steals ... Jen Hazlett scored 11 points, while Kelsey Minato tallied 10 on just 2 of 12 from the floor ... Colgate was game from the beginning, erasing an early 9-0 deficit with 11 straight points ... Army replied with a pair of Minato foul shots to take a 17-14 lead with 5:44 left in the first half, but Lynch’s trey tied the game at 21 and Catherine Lewis’ trey gave the Raiders a 24-23 halftime edge ... Lynch capped off a second half-opening 15-3 Raider run with a 3-pointer to put Colgate ahead 39-26 with 11:43 on the clock ... Army replied with a 10-0 run that took 4:21 to complete, and the Black Knights were within 41-38 with 4:02 left ... Lynch went 1 of 2 at the foul line to increase Colgate’s lead to four, and the Raiders struck again with Kobiela scoring on a layup following an empty Army possession to go up by six ... Simmers scored on the Black Knights’ next possession, but Colgate went 2 of 4 at the line and added a late bucket in the final seconds to produce the ending score ... Army was just 13 of 52 (25 percent) for the game ... Colgate won despite being outscored 17-0 in points off turnovers.