The duo of Michelle Kirk and Liz Leer recorded career-highs with 27 and 19 points, respectively, to lead the American University women's basketball team to a 64-54 victory at Brown on Wednesday afternoon in Providence, R.I. Senior Nicole Ryan grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds in the victory, as the Eagles used a 17-0 run in the second half to take control of the game.
The first several minutes went back-and-forth before Brown (0-2) scored four straight points to take a 20-15 lead midway through the first half. Leer responded for American (2-1) with consecutive left-handed layups to close the gap to one, 20-19, with 7:55 to play in the opening stanza.
After back-to-back Kirk three-pointers gave AU a 25-22 lead, Brown put together an 8-0 spurt to take a 30-25 advantage. The Bears opened up a six-point lead, 32-26, late in the first half before the Eagles scored three points in the final two seconds on a Lisa Strack free throw and a Leer rebound, put-back as time expired.
Brown took a 32-29 lead into halftime and extended it to five on a Courtney Lee jumper a minute into the second half. The rest of the contest turned into a game of runs, as the Eagles initially rolled off five straight points - on a Kirk free throw, a beautiful dish from Strack to Leer for a close-range bucket and an Ebony Edwards steal and coast-to-coast layup - to knot the score at 34 with 17:03 to play.
The Bears quickly responded, running off seven unanswered points over the next two-plus minutes to take a seven-point advantage, 41-34. Facing their largest deficit of the game, the Eagles showed toughness and found their rhythm on both ends of the floor, rolling off 17 consecutive points over an eight-and-a-half minute span to take a 51-41 lead with 5:59 to go. American knocked down three three-pointers during the spurt, two by Kirk and one by Ashley Yencho. Ohemaa Nyanin scored initial bucket to get the run started on a rebound and follow-up layup.
Brown would scrap its way back into the contest, cutting the AU lead to four with 2:08 to play before a pair of Kirk free throws and a back-breaking three-point play by Leer at the 1:12 mark gave the Eagles a 58-49 advantage. Kirk would convert four more free throws in the final minute, and AU came away with a 64-54 road victory.
The Eagles shot 37.5 percent from the floor (21-56) in the contest, although they held Brown to only 33.3 percent (20-60). Additionally, American took good care of the basketball with only 12 turnovers.
Kirk, a Preseason All-Patriot League selection, led the Eagles with 27 points, which matches her career-high that she set last January versus Navy. The junior forward was six-of-14 from the field, and converted career-best 11 made free throws in 14 attempts. She also added seven rebounds and a career-high two blocked shots.
Leer, a junior forward, had her way in the paint all afternoon, scoring 19 points on eight-of-15 shooting. She also recorded nine rebounds and had three blocks.
While Ryan struggled shooting the ball with only two points, she made an impact on the game in other ways. From the guard position, she notched a career-best 10 rebounds and picked up two steals.
For Brown, Christina Johnson led the squad with 12 points and six rebounds. Courtney Lee and Hannah Passafuime added nine points apiece.
"I thought we showed a lot of character and resiliency in coming back from a deficit in the second half," remarked American University Head Coach Matt Corkery. "We kept our turnovers down and were able to get some stops. It was the way we wanted to end our three-game road swing."
With the victory, American concludes its season-opening roadtrip with a 2-1 record, and will play its home-opener this Sunday, November 22 against East Carolina. Opening tip from Bender Arena is set for 2 p.m.
Fans unable to make it to the game can watch all of the action live on the new Eagles Vision TV, part of AUeagles.com. All men's and women's non-conference home games will be available on Eagles Vision TV, which features multiple camera angles, a live scoreboard and analysis from a studio broadcast team and courtside reporters. A year-long Eagles All-Access pass, available for only $49.95, gives you access to all Eagles Vision TV games, plus the archives of all broadcasts from this season anytime you want. Single-game subscriptions are also available for only $5.95 per contest. To signup for Eagles Vision TV, click here.