Navy women bow to Holy Cross again, 67-60 Mids show heart, can't stop foes' 5th title in 8 years

March 05, 1998|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

WORCESTER, Mass. -- One day the Navy women's basketball team will win a game at Holy Cross' campus Hart Center, where the Midshipmen have lost nine straight conference games.

Maybe another time or place. But last night with a Patriot League title and NCAA bid on the line, it was too much to expect.

The Crusaders, led by conference Player of the Year Amy O'Brien and the playmaking of sophomore guard Anna Kinne, displayed their usual poise under pressure in winning the championship game, 67-60, before a record women's tournament crowd of 2,730.

It marked Holy Cross' fifth league title in eight years. The Crusaders (21-8, 10-2) also have won 29 straight league games at home. Navy is still looking for its first title.

Navy coach Joe Sanchez had said his team needed to play a perfect game to upset Holy Cross. But the Mids (23-6, 10-2) simply committed too many turnovers (22) and allowed Holy Cross to get all the key rebounds.

Despite their mistakes, the Midshipmen still had a chance.

A layup by Erica Hayes gave Navy a 54-53 edge with nine minutes remaining. But that would be its last lead.

After ties at 56 and 58, Summer Ivan put the Crusaders ahead to stay on a 15-foot jumper with 3: 30 left. O'Brien, who won tourney MVP honors on the strength of her 22 points and 10 rebounds, converted two free throws for 64-60.

Team captain Becky Dowling, who kept Navy's hopes alive with 18 points, pulled the Mids within a basket with 2: 55 still left.

But O'Brien, the nimble 6-foot-1 junior who ranks No. 4 on the national scoring list (26.2), hit two more clutch free throws. Navy missed a pair of three-point attempts, before Kinne, who had a tourney-record 11 assists, wrapped it up with a pair of foul shots with 42 seconds left.

While the joyous Holy Cross players cut down the nets, Sanchez did his best to put a positive spin on Navy's latest bitter loss to the Crusaders. In their previous meeting at Annapolis, Feb. 22, Holy Cross won in overtime.

Said Sanchez: "We did so many things well tonight. We were still down by only three with two minutes left, but just couldn't make the big shot in the end. It's really hard to analyze a tough loss like this."

Sanchez could have started with the 14 first-half turnovers his team committed that allowed Holy Cross to gain a 39-33 advantage.

Perhaps the most glaring statistical line belonged to freshman point guard Felicia Harris, who committed six turnovers against a single assist and had one point.

Harris felt constant pressure from Kinne, a stocky, tenacious defender.

"I thought in the second half Felicia did a nice job bringing the ball up and getting the ball in the right hands," Sanchez said in Harris' defense. "I thought some of our turnovers resulted from us passing up five-foot shots trying to get a layup. We made one pass too many."

And there were also too many blown layups. "I know I missed at least six myself," said Dowling, who played her prep basketball at nearby Phillips Academy.

Another major factor was the foul-plagued evening of Laurie Coffey, who has been Navy's most consistent scorer and rebounder the last half of the season.

Coffey was limited to 21 minutes before fouling out with 2: 48 left. The junior center scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds.

Navy finished with three more field goals than Holy Cross (24-21), but the Crusaders made up the difference by converting 21 of 29 free throws, with O'Brien, herself, getting 14 attempts.

Sanchez preferred looking on how far his team has come in the last four years, reaching an Academy-high victory total this season.

"We pretty much started from scratch," he said. "But now I can honestly say we've put the Navy women on the basketball map."

NAVY -- Bombinski 1-6 2-2 4, Dowling 8-19 1-2 18, Coffey 5-9 0-1 10, Harris 0-3 1-2 1, Groth 4-8 2-2 10, Stephan 2-5 0-0 6, Hayes 4-7 3-3 11. Totals 24-58 9-12 60.

HOLY CROSS -- Ivan 7-14 1-1 15, Pena 2-4 0-0 5, O'Brien 7-15 8-14 22, Marcsisin 2-6 7-8 12, Rothemich 1-2 1-2 3, Dietz 2-7 0-0 6, Kinne 0-11 4-4 4. Totals 21-61 21-29 67.

Halftime--Holy Cross, 39-33. 3-point goals--N 3-14 (Bombinski 0-3, Dowling 1-4, Harris 0-1, Groth 0-1, Dalmau 0-1, Stephan 2-4), HC 4-14 (Pena 1-2, O'Brien 0-1, Marcsisin 1-4, Dietz 2-4, Kinne 0-3). Fouled out--Coffey, Hayes. Rebounds--N 39 (Dowling 11), HC 38 (O'Brien 10). Assists--N 14 (Bombinski 4, Coffey 4), HC 16 (Kinne 11). Total fouls--N 22, HC 14. A--2,730.

Pub Date: 3/05/98

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