WEST POINT - Four players reached double figures, including senior Jen Hazlett, who totaled 19 points, to send the second-seeded Army women’s basketball team past No. 3 American, 68-55, in the Patriot League Tournament Semifinals on Monday evening at Christl Arena.
The Black Knights will advance to the Patriot League Championship on Saturday for the fourth time, and for the first since 2006, when they captured their only conference title. Army improves to 24-7 after the victory, to match its highest win total in Division I history. The Eagles drop to 22-10 following the setback.
Hazlett added 10 rebounds to notch her seventh double-double of the season, and second in as many games, while the Black Knights also received double-digit scoring efforts from sophomores Kelsey Minato (14) and Brianna Johnson (11) and junior Olivia Schretzman, who posted 10 points and five boards. Sophomore Jean Parker went 3-of-6 from deep to finish with nine points off the bench, while classmate Aimee Oertner tallied four points and five rebounds.
Junior Jen Dumiak and sophomore Michelle Holmes each finished with 12 points for American, while senior Alexis Dobbs added 11. Senior Sarah Kiely contributed 10 points off the bench, and junior Arron Zimmerman scored five points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
The Black Knights opened the contest shooting 8-of-16 from the field to control a 19-8 advantage 8:14 into the first half. Hazlett accounted for nine of those points while going 4-of-6 from the floor during the stretch. The Eagles scored 10 of the next 14 points to pull back to within five before Parker buried a three-pointer at the 4:53 mark to spark a 7-0 Army run that put the hosts up 12 with 2:31 left in the period. American closed the half on a 6-0 run, including a 4-of-4 showing from the foul line in the last 45 seconds.
Army came storming out of the gate to begin the second stanza, extending its lead to 41-28 after an 11-4 run during which four Black Knights scored. Minato chipped in four points during the stretch while Army missed just twice, shooting 6-for-8 from the floor. American responded with a 22-7 run during a 5:16 span that brought the Eagles back to within a pair. The visitors scored seven of those 22 points after Minato was sidelined due to foul trouble at the 7:01 mark.
Army didn’t let American pull any closer, as Hazlett knocked in a three-pointer with 5:16 remaining, and Johnson buried a shot from long range as the shot clock expired on the Black Knights’ next possession to put the hosts up, 56-48. The Eagles scored three of the game’s next five points to cut their deficit to seven with 2:43 left before Hazlett recorded a key offensive rebound to extend Army’s possession to below the two-minute mark. Parker netted her third triple of the contest with 1:44 remaining to again put the hosts up by 10. American briefly shrunk the deficit to single digits after Dobbs converted a pair of free-throws at the 1:13 mark, but the Black Knights closed the game with 7-2 run that included a combined seven free-throws by four different players.
Army will return to Christl Arena for the final time this season on Saturday, March 15, when it hosts fifth-seeded Holy Cross in the Patriot League Championship. The contest is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start time and will air nationally.