The American University women's basketball team began strong and never looked back en route to a 63-51 victory over Bucknell on Wednesday night at Bender Arena. Three Eagles scored in double figures, including a game-high 20 points by junior Michelle Kirk, as American won its third straight game.
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Kirk came out of the gates sizzling, picking up right where she left off in her career-high 32-point performance on Saturday against Lehigh. She knocked down three consecutive three-pointers in the first 2:52, giving American (9-7, 2-0 Patriot League) an 11-4 advantage. Kirk's fourth trifecta with 13:48 to play in the first half gave the Eagles a 16-8 lead. Raven Harris followed up with another three-pointer minutes later, extending the AU advantage to 19-8 less than nine minutes into the contest. Bucknell (4-11, 0-2 PL) would never get back within single digits in the rest of the game.
Buckets by Stephanie Anya and Liz Leer extended the Eagles' advantage to 23-8 midway through the first half, and a layup by Ashley Yencho minutes later gave AU a 20-point lead, 38-18, with 1:26 to go in the opening half. The Eagles took a 40-21 lead into halftime after shooting a red-hot six-of-nine from three-point range in the first 20 minutes.
Bucknell picked up its play in the second half, creeping closer to the Eagles throughout the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Bison eventually got within 12, 49-37, with 9:32 remaining in the contest, but a free throw and three-point basket by Kirk extended the AU advantage back to 16, 53-37.
Minutes later, Bucknell made one final push, as it trimmed the deficit to 12 with 5:25 to go, but a final Kirk trifecta dashed the Bison's hopes. Bucknell continued to fight hard to the end cutting the final margin to 12, 63-51.
For the 14th time in 16 games this season, Kirk led the Eagles in scoring with 20 points on seven-of-16 shooting from the floor. She was an efficient five-of-eight from three-point range, matching her career-high for most three-pointers in a single-game. She also grabbed five rebounds.
Leer and Harris scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, for AU. Leer recorded four blocked shots, while Harris had five assists and four steals.
Bucknell's scoring was relatively evenly-distributed, as Joyce Novacek led the Bison with 14 points. Trisha Krewson and Rachel Voss chipped in 13 points each.
The difference in the game proved to be the turnover battle as AU held a plus-17 margin. Bucknell committed 28 giveaways, while AU only turned the ball over 11 times.
Additionally, the Bison shot 50 percent from the floor (21-42) compared to only 35.5 percent (22-62) for AU. Despite the percentage differential, the Eagles actually made one more field goal in the game due to 20 more attempts from the field.
AU will next travel to Hamilton, N.Y. for its first Patriot League road contest of the season on Saturday, January 16 at 2 p.m. against Colgate.