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H. Cross again blunts Navy women's hopes; Annual Patriot pest quiets title talk with 69-61 win


WORCESTER, Mass. -- It's been seven-plus seasons now and the Navy women are still seeking their first Patriot League crown -- either regular-season or tournament.

In recent years, any title talk has commenced with Holy Cross, and invariably that's where it has ended.

Last night, those discussions were put on hold once again, when the Mids, needing a win to cling to their Patriot League regular-season championship hopes, fell to the Crusaders, 69-61, before a Hart Center crowd listed at 2,300.

Playing most of the game without leading scorer Erica Hayes, who had a severe cold, Navy has now dropped eight out of the last nine meetings between the schools. The lone exception was the Mids' 81-74 win this season at Alumni Hall.

"They're an excellent ballclub," said Navy coach Joe Sanchez, "but we're right there on their heels. We beat 'em the first time and then play this kind of game against them, so they kind of glance over their shoulders and worry about Navy."

And the Mids (14-9, 6-4) gave Holy Cross (17-7, 9-1) plenty to worry about, when they ran up a 10-point lead and held it until late in the first half. But the second half told the story.

Sparked by Amy O'Brien (game-high 29 points) and Anna Kinne (15), Holy Cross took over the game.

Early on, Navy used a 7-0 surge to forge an 18-15 lead and bulked it up to 10 points.

Freshman point guard Marisa Ball, making only her second start, set off that run with a driving layup.

Holly Fryburger then hit a three-pointer, followed by Jennifer Bombinski's 15-footer.

Though she played sparingly, Hayes came up with four key points and hit the deck to tie up a loose ball.

But by intermission, that lead was chopped to five, 31-26, as the Crusaders closed out the half with a 7-2 spurt, most of which came from O'Brien, the nation's seventh-leading scorer (22.1 ppg). She was effectively held in check by Mids center Laurie Coffey before closing out the half with five of her 14 points.

Holy Cross continued its comeback after the break, putting together a 10-4 run to take a 36-35 lead, its first lead since early in the game. Six of those points came on a pair of three-pointers by Lara Marcsisin, which sent the Mids reeling.

"They really didn't have the outside shooting game," said Coffey, "and then they got a couple of those at the beginning of the half. That hurt us."

The Crusaders eventually took a 57-50 lead, sparked by a brief stretch in which Kinne, a 5-6 point guard, drove the lane for layups twice and also blocked a shot.

Hayes replied with six quick points of her own, and the Mids regained the lead, 59-58, when Bombinski launched in a three-pointer with 4: 04 to go.

Those as it turned out were the last points Navy got until a Coffey layup with 24 seconds to play, while Holy Cross put the game away with an 11-2 run.

NAVY -- Bombinski 2-10 0-0 5, Regoli 2-7 0-0 4, Coffey 8-15 3-4 20, Ball 1-6 2-2 4, Fryburger 3-5 0-0 7, Goodrich 2-4 0-0 4, Melofchik 1-2 0-0 3, Stephen 0-2 0-0 0, Hayes 5-10 4-4 14, Marino 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-61 9-10 61.

HOLY CROSS -- Ivan 2-7 2-2 6, O'Brien 10-15 9-14 29, Marcsisin 6-11 0-0 15, Jutras 1-3 2-2 4, Kinne 5-14 4-7 15, Paukert 0-0 0-0 0, Rothemich 0-0 0-0 0, Grace 0-0 0-0 0, O'Shaughnessy 0-0 0-0 0, Abraham 0-4 0-0 0, Fabbre 0-0 0-0 0, Zawadzkas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-55 17-25 69.

Halftime--Navy, 31-26. 3-point goals--N 4-11 (Coffey 0-1, Melofchik 1-1, Fryburger 1-2, Bombinski 1-3, Goodrich 0-2, Stephen 0-2); HC 4-18 (Marcsisin 3-7, Kinne 1-6, Ivan 0-1, Jutras 0-1, O'Brien 0-1, Abraham 0-2). Rebounds--N 37 (Coffey 12); HC 33 (Ivan, O'Brien 8). Assists--N 12 (Ball, Bombinski 3); HC 19 (Jutras 11). Total fouls--N 21, HC 14. A--2,300.

Pub Date: 2/10/99

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