Juniors Michelle Kirk and Liz Leer each scored 17 points and sophomore Lisa Strack contributed a career-best 15 to lead the American University women's basketball team to a 62-45 victory at Navy on Wednesday night in Annapolis, Md. The Eagles have now won seven straight games, and are a perfect 6-0 in the Patriot League for the first time ever.
American (13-7, 6-0 Patriot League) and Navy (11-10, 3-3 PL) battled in a back-and-forth first 15 minutes of action, as neither team was able to gain more than a three-point advantage. The Eagles began to separate themselves late in the half, putting together an 9-2 run over the final 5:25 to take a 31-23 lead at intermission. The spurt was sparked by a Raven Harris three-pointer, which gave AU a 25-21 lead. She later added a pair of free throws, which followed a Leer bucket. Kirk closed the half with a fantastic crossover dribble move, setting herself up for a layup in traffic, which extended the halftime margin to eight in favor of the Eagles.
Strack opened the second half with back-to-back baskets to give American a 10-point advantage, 35-25. The Midshipmen responded cutting the AU lead to five before an Ohemaa Nyanin rebound and putback, followed by a Strack bucket gave the Eagles a nine-point lead once again.
Navy would make one final push midway through the second half, trimming the Eagles' lead to four, 43-39. But American fought back, going on a 16-2 run over the next eight-plus minutes to virtually ice the game. Kirk got the run started with consecutive baskets to extend the margin back to six, 47-41. A Janelle McDonald jumper, followed by five straight Leer points, gave the Eagles a 55-41 advantage with 4:01 to play. Leer would add five more points down the stretch, including a three-pointer from straight away, to give the Eagles a 19-point lead, 62-43, with 2:09 to go. Navy added a final bucket in the last minute, setting the final margin at 62-45 in favor of American.
The Eagles shot 39.3 percent (24-61) from the floor compared to 33.3 percent (17-51) for Navy. American held Navy to only 23.1 percent (3-13) from three-point range. Additionally, AU was 10-of-10 from the free throw line, only the fourth game in program history that the Eagles were perfect from the free throw line (with a minimum of 10 attempts).
Additionally, American outrebounded Navy by a 40-32 margin and held a 32-18 advantage in points in the paint.
In addition to Leer's 17 points, she recorded six rebounds and a career-best-matching six blocked shots, which ties her own school record for most blocks in a single-game. Strack added career-bests with 15 points and eight rebounds, while dishing out four assists. McDonald also came off bench to record a career-best six points and grab three rebounds.
Navy was led by Angela Myers and K.C. Gordon, who scored 12 and 10 points, respectively.
"A big focus for us coming into the game was defending Navy's three-point shooting. We felt like we did that consistently tonight," commented American Head Coach Matt Corkery. "Our ball security was pretty good as well and that allowed us to put some points on the board. Navy's an excellent team and we are excited about our performance as a team."
The Eagles will look to win their eighth straight game when they host Lafayette on Saturday, January 30 at 2 p.m. at Bender Arena.