The Navy Midshipmen rallied from a 30-18 halftime deficit to defeat the AU women’s basketball team 47-40 Saturday and capture its first Patriot League title in program history.
Freshman Jade Geif, who was named conference Rookie of the Year during the regular season, registered a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds on her way to being named Tournament MVP.
Nicole Ryan scored 12 points for the Eagles, who are now winless in four appearances in the Patriot League final.
From the start, the Eagles looked as if they were destined to make their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. AU scored the game’s first eight points and led 11-3 after the first media timeout.
After absorbing the opening blow from the Eagles, the Midshipmen scored the game’s next five points. Consecutive layups from Geif followed a free throw by Alix Membreno to cut the AU lead to 11-8.
But Navy could break no further into the Eagles’ advantage during the opening half, as AU maintained at least a four-point cushion over the next eight minutes.
With less than one minute to go in the first half and her team leading 24-18, First Team All-Patriot League selection Liz Leer hit two three-pointers to put her team up 30-18 at halftime. The back-to-back three-pointers put AU at six for 12 from beyond the arc in the first half. The Eagles shot 44 percent from the field.
The Midshipmen struggled to find any rhythm offensively, as they were 33 percent from the field and made only one of their seven attempts from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes. Over the final 5:33 of the first half, Navy turned the ball over four times, missed all five of its shots and missed its only free-throw attempt.
As if the teams switched roles, it was Navy making all its shots to open the second half and AU struggling to find any offensive success. Just five minutes into the second half, an Erin Edwards jumper capped a 14-2 Midshipmen run and erased the Eagles’ 12-point halftime advantage.
Navy’s first lead of the game came with 13:21 to play, when two Geif free throws put the Midshipmen up 34-32.
With the momentum shifting, AU responded with a 7-0 run. A jumper by Ebony Edwards followed a Lisa Strack layup to put the Eagles up 36-34. Ryan then hit her fourth three-pointer of the night to give AU a 39-34 lead with 8:44 remaining.
With a conference championship now eight minutes away, the Eagles’ offense went cold at the worst possible time. AU scored just one point over the game’s final eight minutes (a free throw by Ashley Yencho), and was outscored 13-1 down the stretch.
Navy pulled away for good with 2:40 left to play, when Membreno followed an Audrey Bauer three-pointer with a triple of her own to put the Midshipmen up 45-39. The Eagles missed their final nine shots, allowing Navy to pick up the 47-40 victory and earn the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.