The American University women's basketball became the first Patriot League team since 1996-97 to begin 12-0 in Patriot League play with its 54-48 victory over Army Saturday afternoon in Bender Arena. The triumph is the Eagles' 20th of the season, the third straight season they have reached the 20-win mark.
American (20-6, 12-0 PL) is the third Patriot League team to ever begin with 12 straight wins to begin conference play. Both previous 12-0 teams were Holy Cross, which occurred in 1990-91 and 1996-97 back when the league schedule was 12 total games (due to only seven conference schools). No Patriot League team has gone undefeated in a 14-game conference schedule.
AU's 12th win in a row is a new program standard. American reached 11 straight victories on two previous occasions (2007-08 and 2010-11 seasons). Additionally, the Eagles' victory gives them their sixth 20-win season in program history.
American jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead over Army (13-14, 7-5 PL), but the Black Knights rallied to draw within 11-10 midway through the opening half. The action remained tight until AU closed the half on a 7-0 run, capped by a Jen Dumiak three at the buzzer, to take a 22-14 advantage into halftime.
A Sarah Kiely layup opened the scoring in the second half as AU took its first double-digit lead of the game, 24-14, at the 17:57 mark. Army trimmed its deficit to as few as five on two different occasions over the next several minutes before AU erupted with an 8-0 run to open up a 43-29 advantage with 7:09 to play. Lisa Strack and Alexis Dobbs hit back-to-back threes to begin the spurt and Stephanie Anya concluded it with a jumper.
The Eagles stretched their lead to as many as 16 before the Black Knights began chipping away , eventually cutting its deficit to 51-46 with 27 seconds to go. Army, however, ran out of time as the Eagles held on for the six-point win.
"We were able to build up a lead and were able to hang on down the stretch," remarked Head Coach Matt Corkery. "Army is a really physical team and they did a good job in bringing some pressure late in the game. We were fortunate to make some timely threes throughout the game, which proved to be the difference."
AU and Army had similar lines on the boxscore as Eagles team shot 33 percent from the field and both squads were 9-of-17 from the free-throw line. The difference proved to be AU's 5-of-18 from deep while Army was only 1-of-9.
Prior to the game, AU's three senior student-athletes -- Edwards, Halvorsen, and Strack -- were honored in a Senior Day ceremony. The class has registered an 83-37 record in their four years, which makes them the winningest senior class in program history. This includes a 44-10 mark in Patriot League play with three conference regular season championships.
The Eagles will hit the road for the final two regular season games, beginning this Wednesday, February 22 at Bucknell. AU will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Patriot League Tournament, which will get underway with the quarterfinal game on Thursday, March 1 at 7 p.m. in Bender Arena.