WASHINGTON – The American University women's basketball team tried to battle back from a 10-point halftime deficit, but could not finish its second-half rally, falling to Princeton, 63-56, on Sunday evening in Bender Arena.
In front of a raucous crowd of 1,628 that included First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, the Eagles (0-3) found themselves trailing 36-26 at the intermission. The deficit grew to 15 points with less than 13 minutes remaining in the second half, when American began to mount a comeback.
With tough defense down the stretch, the Eagles whittled the margin down to five points with 37 seconds remaining and again with 13 seconds to play, but Princeton (4-0) was able to ice the win at the free throw line.
Senior Jen Dumiak led American with 13 points, all in the second half, while adding eight assists without a turnover. Arron Zimmerman added 12 points, while junior Ari Booth scored a season-high 10 points.
For the Tigers, Blake Dietrick finished with 19 points, Michelle Miller added 15 points and Annie Tarakchian registered 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The two teams were a combined 17-of-32 from beyond the arc, with the Eagles and Tigers scoring eight and nine three-pointers, respectively. Princeton's biggest advantage came on the boards, outrebounding AU 41-25. The Tigers also scored 17 second-chance points, compared to zero for the Eagles.
"We have to do a better job [rebounding]," said American head coach Megan Gebbia. "We need to crash the offensive boards and find ways to get easy points and second chance points. If we can start doing that, I think we'll see our point totals go up as well."
The Eagles' challenging non-conference slate continues next week, Nov. 28-29, as it travels to Las Vegas, Nev., for the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout. American will face Gonzaga on Friday, while taking on Oregon on Saturday.
"I assembled this schedule because I wanted our team to learn how to compete with good teams, and we're there," said Gebbia. "It's just the last few minutes where we haven't been able to put it together. I think in the long run, this schedule is going to help us once we get to the Patriot League."
Members of the Obama family were in attendance to see Princeton's Leslie Robinson, who is the niece of the President and First Lady. Robinson had five rebounds and two assists in 11 minutes off the Tigers' bench.