WASHINGTON (AP) Cecily Carl scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help American secure its second NCAA Tournament bid with a 58-49 victory over Navy on Sunday in the Patriot League championship game.
Top-seeded American, which has won 20 straight home games, claimed its second title in four years – reaching its first NCAAs in 2015.
PL player of the year Emily Kinneston struggled through the first three quarters on 1-of-9 shooting, but she delivered in the fourth with 10 points to finish with 14 for American (26-6). She also had nine rebounds, five assists and made all eight of her free throws.
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On Navy’s second straight two-shot possession, Hannah Fenske sank a pull-up jumper to cap a 9-2 run and get within 47-46. After American answered with two free throws, Fenske spun her defender for an open layup attempt but it rolled out for a tie-up. Navy regained possession and grabbed an offensive rebound but couldn’t score. The Eagles sealed it by making 11 of 12 free throws in the final two minutes.
Taylor Dunham led No. 3 seed Navy (25-7) with 14 points, Kaila Clark grabbed 11 rebounds and Fenske tied a Patriot League Tournament record with eight steals. The Midshipmen were seeking their fourth crown since 2011, winning three straight starting that season.
Navy jumped out to a 14-5 lead but Carl capped the first-half scoring with a 3-pointer for a 24-23 lead.
Both teams entered the contest with program records for most single-season wins.
American closed its regular-season home slate undefeated, 13-0, for the first time since the 1970s. The Eagles’ overall home winning streak ranks fifth in NCAA Division I with UConn (78), Lamar University (28), Notre Dame (23), Green Bay (23) and Baylor (20).
Kinneston is second in the league in scoring, averaging 15.9 points and the top distributor with 4.3 assists, making her the only player in the conference to lead her team in both scoring and assists.