The American University women's basketball team was engaged in a tight, back-and-forth contest with Navy on Wednesday night in Annapolis, but the Midshipmen made the plays down the stretch to earn the 63-56 victory. With the defeat, the Eagles fall to 9-4 in Patriot League play and now sit in a three-way tie for first-place with Navy and Lehigh with one game to play in the regular season.
Liz Leer led American (19-8, 9-4 PL) with a game-high 16 points along with seven rebounds as she made her 122nd career appearance as an Eagle, tying her for the program record with Talicia Jackson '09. Lisa Strack, meanwhile, added 15 points and team-bests with eight boards and four assists, while Stephanie Anya chipped in eight points and seven rebounds.
Navy (16-11, 9-4 PL) jumped out to a quick 10-5 lead in the opening three minutes of the game but five straight Eagles' points on an Anya jumper and an Alexis Dobbs three tied the game at 10. The score would once again draw even at 14-14 with 10:35 to play before the Midshipmen took the lead and kept it for the remainder of the half. Navy extended the advantage to as much as seven, 29-22, before an Ebony Edwards bucket closed the half with the Mids leading 29-24.
The Eagles began the second half with six of the first eight points to draw within one, 31-30, and this set the tone for the next 15 minutes of back-and-forth action. The Mids held a lead between one and four points for a five-minute stretch until a three by Nicole Ryan leveled the score at 40 with 11:36 to go. Ashley Yencho followed with another trey on AU's next possession to give the Eagles a 43-40 lead with under 11 minutes remaining in the game.
The next five-plus minutes were all square as neither team held more than a two-point advantage. A Sarah Kiely layup evened the game at 52 with 5:20 to play, marking the 12th and final tie score of the contest.
From that point forward, Navy controlled the action, rolling off four straight points before an Anya layup trimmed AU's deficit in half, 56-54, with 2:20 left. A key bucket by Navy's Jade Geif put the Mids back up by four and after an AU miss, a pair of Erin Edwards free throws gave Navy a 60-54 advantage with 38 seconds to play. The Midshipmen knocked down 3-of-4 free throws in the final 30 seconds to come away with the 63-56 win.
Both teams shot similar clips from the floor (41.2 percent for Navy, 39.7 percent for the Eagles), but the Eagles were hurt by 6-of-12 shooting from the free throw line. Additionally, Navy held a 19-9 advantage on second-chance points.
"Our inability to finish possessions on defense was the difference in the game," Head Coach Matt Corkery remarked. "We allowed too many second chance points. We need to improve our rebounding and defense in late shot clock situations to come out on top in games like this."
Angela Myers led Navy with 15 points -- which included a perfect 10-of-10 from the foul line -- along with nine assists and four rebounds. Edwards and Cassie Consedine also registered 13 and 10 points, respectively, for the Mids, while Geif grabbed a game-high 11 boards.
The Eagles will close out the regular season on Saturday, February 26 when they host Lafayette at 2 p.m. in Bender Arena. Prior to the game, American's three senior student-athletes – Leer, Ryan and Yencho – will be honored in a special "Senior Day" ceremony.