Eagles senior guard Lisa Strack sank a pair of foul shots with 10 seconds to play, and when Navy sophomore Audrey Bauer’s three-pointer bounced off the front rim as time expired, American players began celebrating the unlikely comeback that allowed them to sweep the regular season series.
“Going into the game, our pregame speech was about toughness,” American Coach Matt Corkery said. “Mental toughness. Physical toughness. I said, ‘We’re being challenged right now.’ But I really liked that nobody panicked. They were just ready to get back out there and make it happen.”
The Eagles (19-6, 11-0 Patriot League) did so by opening the second half with a 13-0 flurry after Navy went into intermission leading 36-21 thanks to 15 consecutive points. After sophomore guard Alexis Dobbs made a three-pointer to draw American to 36-34 with 16:19 left in the game, Navy finally got a field goal when Bauer sank a jumper.
Navy (14-11, 7-4) fended off several subsequent American attempts to gain the lead, but erratic foul shooting in part allowed the Eagles to close the gap for good. The Midshipmen missed 5 of 8 free throws in the second half, including three in a row during one stretch.
“It’s just a disappointing loss,” said Midshipmen Coach Stefanie Pemper, whose team had its four-game winning streak stopped and must travel to Bender Arena if Navy and American play for the Patriot League tournament title.
Dobbs led American with nine points and four assists while committing just one turnover, and the Eagles got at least three points from nine players. American shot 48 percent in the second half and went 11 for 12 overall from the free throw line. Strack made all six of her foul shots and added seven rebounds and two assists.
Navy, meantime, shot 29 percent in the second half after making 16 of 29 (55 percent) shots in before the break. The reigning Patriot League tournament champions also missed 6 of 7 three-pointers in the second half.
The margin of victory was American’s closest since beating Army, 40-39, on Jan. 21. The Eagles came into Wednesday’s game having won their last five games by an average of 22 points.
“That’s exactly what we needed,” Strack said. “That’s what Coach Matt came in at halftime and said. We’re not learning anything by blowing teams out, so it was a great challenge to see what kind of guts our team had.”
●DUKE 67, VIRGINIA TECH 45: Tricia Liston scored 17 points to help the fifth-ranked Blue Devils beat the visiting Hokies.
Chelsea Gray added 15 points for Duke (22-3, 13-0 ACC), which lost starting forward Richa Jackson to a left knee injury in the first half. Aerial Wilson scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half to lead Virginia Tech (7-19, 3-10).
●BAYLOR 83, OKLAHOMA STATE 51: Brittney Griner had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Kimetria Hayden scored a season-high 20 points and the top-ranked Bears (26-0, 13-0 Big 12) beat the host Cowgirls (13-9, 5-8).
●TEMPLE 75, GEORGE WASHINGTON 54: Kristen McCarthy had 21 points and eight rebounds to help lead the Owls (17-8, 10-1 Atlantic 10) to a home win over the Colonials. Tara Booker and Tiana Myers each scored 15 points for GW (11-4, 4-7).
— From news services
and staff reports