WASHINGTON - Five players scored in the double digits to carry the American University women's basketball team to a thrilling overtime victory Wednesday night, as the Eagles beat out cross-town rival and reigning Atlantic 10 champions, George Washington, 66-61.
Four of the five starters for the Eagles put up double-digit tallies, starting with the 12-point effort from sophomore Kaitlyn Lewis. Sophomore Cecily Carl and junior Maria Liddane each contribued 11 points, while senior Lauren Crisler added another ten. Sophomore Elina Koskimies came off the bench to add another ten points, including the deciding 3-pointer in the final minute of overtime to lift the Eagles to a 64-61 lead.
The pair of blocks by Carl moves her into the No. 10 slot on the AU career record board. Not even midway through her sophomore campaign and Carl has already tallied 50, knocking Lynne Copeland (49) out of her top ten spot.
This was the third time the Eagles have gone into overtime this season, with the other two ending in one-point losses to Delaware and Georgia State. They are now 3-5 overall with the start of conference games looming later this month.
The Colonials entered the game on a four-game winning streak, with a 7-2 record for the season and 1-0 in conference play. Their only other two losses of the season came at the hands of Georgetown in the season opener, 72-57, and the No. 11/18 ranked Syracuse, 74-71. They now stand at 7-3 overall for the season.
GW had three players hit double-digits, including senior Hannah Schaible who led with 19 points. Senior Caira Washington and junior Brianna Cummings followed with 11 and ten points, respectively. Cummings also brought down a team-high eight rebounds, while Washington contributed four assists.
Although GW took control of the game early, gapping the Eagles by three points during the first five minutes, the tempo changed midway through the first period after a jumper from Kaitlyn Lewis sent AU on an 13-5 run to enter the break with a 20-17 lead.
From there, the Eagles maintained the lead through most of regulation, with GW tying AU six times and regaining the lead on only three occasions.
The Colonials made a brief run at the end of the first half, putting up eight points to take a 31-32 lead with 17-seconds left. Some last-second free throws on both sides in the final ten seconds tied the game, 33-33, heading into the locker room.
AU rode that momentum into the third period, going on an 7-0 run to gain a five-point edge over the Colonials. GW crept back into the lead late in the fourth period after a late jumpshot by Washington and 3-pointer by senior Shannon Crenshaw put them up by four with less than two minutes in regulation. But Crisler and Carl responded with a pair of quick shots in the paint, tying the game at 57-57 to head into extra time.
The five-minute overtime period looked similar to the first five of the game, with GW taking an early lead. But a jumpshot and free throw from Lewis evened out the score at 61-61, and a 3-point shot from the corner by Koskimies put the Eagles in the lead for the final time. A pair of free throws by Carl in the final ten seconds extended the margin to five points, and AU lead 66-61 by the final buzzer.
In all, the Eagles shot 48.1 percent from the floor, 35.7 percent from 3-point range, and 85.6 percent from the free throw line.
American now enters a four-game series on the road, starting with a matchup against Hofstra at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10. For the latest on the Eagles, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_WBasketball.