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Patriot champs beat Holy Cross for third time this season

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Kara Pollinger tied a career high with 24 points, Chole Stapleton added 19, and Navy won its third straight Patriot League title by defeating Holy Cross 72-53 Saturday night.

The victory comes with an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Navy (21-11) is the second team to win three consecutive Patriot League championships; Holy Cross captured four in a row from 1998-2001.

Navy does not have a senior on the roster. The second-seeded Midshipmen beat Holy Cross by 13 and 24 points during the regular season.

Brisje Malone scored 17 for the fourth-seeded Crusaders (18-14), who went 4 for 20 from 3-point range.

Navy trailed 9-7 before Pollinger made a three-point play to put the Midshipmen ahead for good. That was part of an 11-0 run that concluded with successive 3-pointers by Stapleton.

Minutes later, Stapleton drilled another 3 to spark a 10-2 spurt that gave Navy a 33-19 lead.