Junior Michelle Kirk scored a game-high 21 points and classmate Liz Leer added 14 in leading the American University women's basketball team to a convincing 66-38 victory over Navy on Wednesday evening at Bender Arena. The win marked the Eagles' 12th Patriot League triumph, which sets a new program record for most single-season conference wins.
Navy (15-13, 7-6 Patriot League) jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead but American (19-8, 12-1 PL) responded with five straight points on an Ohemaa Nyanin bucket and a three from Kirk to take a 5-4 advantage. After a Navy three-pointer, the Eagles rolled off 14 unanswered points over a 7:04 span to jump out to a 19-7 lead. Kirk and Leer accounted for all but one point during the stretch, which included two Kirk three's. The Midshipmen cut its deficit to as little as six points, 26-20, with 1:41 to play in the first half before an Ashley Yencho three sent AU to the locker room with a 29-20 advantage.
A Leer three-pointer early in the second half gave the Eagles a double-digit lead, 35-23, one they maintained throughout the rest of the game. American put the game virtually out of reach with a 9-0 run to take a 48-26 lead at the 12:38 mark. The advantage was extended to 25, 53-28, on another Yencho three midway through the half. The Eagles maintained their comfortable margin over the final 10 minutes, winning by a final score of 66-38.
Kirk's 21 points came on an efficient 8-13 shooting from the floor, including 4-9 from three-point range. She also grabbed eight rebounds. Leer added 14 on six-of-nine from the field, while recording a game-high nine rebounds. Yencho was also in double-figures for AU with 11 points, which includes 3-4 from three-point range. The sophomore duo of Ebony Edwards and Lisa Strack had solid all-around games for the Eagles, registering a combined 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Navy was led by Cassie Consedine's nine points, as the Midshipmen failed to record a double-digit scorer.
The Eagles outrebounded Navy, 39-24, and held a 13-7 advantage on the offensive glass. AU held Navy to only 32.0 percent shooting in the game while recording an 8-19 clip (42.1 percent) from three-point range.
"...I thought we did a good job finding the open player, moving the ball, sharing the ball," said American Head Coach Matt Corkery in his postgame press conference, which can be watched in the above video. "I think that is a characteristic of our team. It has been all year. [We're] an unselfish team, we don't have any problem giving the ball up and finding the open player. It's fun to coach a team like that."
With the win, the Eagles earned their record-breaking 12th conference victory of the season. The 11-win mark was reached three prior times in school history (1997, 1998 and 2008).
AU will shoot for its 20th win of the campaign with it closes out the regular season at Lafayette on Saturday, February 27. Game time from Easton, Pa., is slated for 1 p.m.
Note: Prior to the game, American's two senior student-athletes -- Nyanin and Nicole Ryan were honored in a senior day ceremony. Check AUeagles.com over the next few days for a video of the ceremony.