Three Eagles scored in double figures, including a game-high 19 points from Michelle Kirk, to push the American University women's basketball team to a 57-46 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Monday night at Bender Arena.
(If you're having difficulty watching the Quicktime version of the video, click here to watch it on AU Athletics' YouTube channel)
American (7-7), which was competing in its final non-conference game of the 2009-10 season, got off to a fast start in the opening three-plus minutes, jumping out to an early 7-0 lead. Buckets by Ebony Edwards, Liz Leer and Ashley Yencho provided the Eagles that early cushion. AU would open up an 11-point advantage, 21-10, with 6:39 to play in the opening half on a layup by Kirk. UMES (2-6), however, went on a 6-0 run late in the first half to trim the Eagles' lead to five before a Kirk bucket in the final minute set the halftime margin at seven, 25-18.
The two squads played even basketball for the first seven minutes of the second half before an Edwards three-point basket gave American a 10-point lead, 41-31. But the Lady Hawks responded with the next nine points over a seven-minute span to trim AU's lead to one, 41-40, with 6:16 remaining in the game.
Facing a critical possession, the Eagles worked their offense to give Yencho a wide-open three-pointer from straight away, which extended the AU advantage to four. American would add the eight more unanswered points, capping a 10-0 run and giving the Eagles a 51-40 lead with 1:56 to play. AU held its advantage down the stretch and finished with a 57-46 home victory.
For the 12th time in 14 games this season, Kirk led the Eagles' scoring attack with 19 points, including eight-of-11 from the free throw line. She also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and recorded three assists. Leer and Yencho were also in double figures for AU with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Leer added seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals for the Eagles.
UMES was paced by April McBride's 14 points, while Casey Morton and Chelsea Sanders each contributed nine points.
"I thought we kind of set the tone defensively from the beginning of the game and kept them [UMES] from getting easy shots," American University Head Coach Matt Corkery commented on his live postgame interview on Eagles Vision TV. "That continued pretty much through the first half. In the second half, we didn't make a lot of adjustments; we just stayed with our man-to-man, and they made a little bit of a run ... but we settled down and when we needed to, we got stops and made some plays in the last four minutes."
The Eagles will be back in action on Saturday, January 9 as they welcome defending Patriot League champion Lehigh to Bender Arena for the conference opener. Game time is set for 2 p.m. Additionally, AU women's basketball's annual Alumnae Day will take place following the game at 4 p.m. For more information on the event, click here.