Navy women win Patriot final, earn first NCAA tournament berth

March 12, 2011|By Mike Frainie, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Last year, Jade Geif, Audrey Bauer and Alix Membreno were playing high school basketball. Next weekend, the trio will be playing in the women's NCAA tournament.

The Mids got 16 points from Geif, 10 from Membreno and seven from Bauer to rally from a 12-point deficit and defeat American University, 47-40, and win the Patriot League championship Saturday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.

For their effort, the Mids (20-11) earned the Academy it's first trip the NCAA tournament next Saturday or Sunday.

"It's an amazing feeling," said Geif. "We worked so hard and just brought it all together. It wasn't perfect, but we had a great end to our season [the last few games] and we fed off that."

Perhaps the most remarkable stat of the evening was that Navy held American to just 10 points in the second half, and only one point over the last 8 minutes, 44 seconds of the game.

The Mids were their own worst enemy in the first half, committing 10 turnovers. American got 14 points off of those mistakes.

Navy also didn't defend the three-point line very well, allowing the Eagles (22-9) to hit six of 12 shots from beyond the arc en route to a 30-18 lead.

"I don't know whether we said anything special at the half," Navy coach Stefanie Pemper said. "Somebody mentioned that we looked like we were playing afraid. That fired me up, and I think it fired them up, too."

The Mids looked like a different team in the second half. With Membreno leading the way with six points, Navy scored 14 of the first 16 points of the second half to tie the game at 32 with 14:58 left. After Geif made two free throws, the Mids had their first lead of the game, 34-32, with 13:21 left.

The Eagles then scored the next seven points, including a 3-pointer by leading scorer Nicole Ryan (22 points), to run out to a 39-34 lead.

After that it was all Navy.

On the next possession, Navy's Angela Myers hit a 3 to cut the lead to 39-37. The Mids made a defensive stop, and then re-tied the game at 39 with a Geif jumper.

On the next two offensive trips, Navy got 3-pointers — by Bauer and Membreno — to take a 45-39 lead with 2:36 left. Then the Mids defense held American to only one point the rest of the way.

The 40 points given up Navy broke the record for fewest points allowed in a Patriot League championship game. The teams also set a record for the fewest combined points n a championship game with 87.

"We're pretty tough on them," Pemper said of her team. "We set the bar very high. I'm just so proud of the women on this team."

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