Game 8 · American (4-3) vs. Youngstown State (2-4)
Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 · 2 p.m. ET · Washington, D.C. (Bender Arena)
All-Time Record: American leads, 3-1
Stream: Patriot League Network on Watch Stadium
WASHINGTON - The American University women's basketball team opens its December schedule at home on Saturday, hosting Youngstown State at 2 p.m. in Bender Arena.
The Eagles are 4-3 so far this season after powering to a 13-point win over UMBC, 61-48, on Wednesday. The Penguins enter the weekend at 2-4 this season after dropping their last two contests against Bucknell, 66-60, and Robert Morris, 84-52.
This will be the fifth meeting between the Eagles and Penguins since 1989 when Youngstown State claimed the series opener, 84-77, at the Florida International Tournament in Miami.
American has won all three games since then, starting with a 57-41 final score in 2010 followed by a 48-41 finish in 2011. The most recent meeting between the two teams was last season when AU opened its 2016-17 campaign with a 77-64 win at YSU.
THE LAST TIME OUT
A set of double-figure contributions from senior Maria Liddane (11 points), junior Kaitlyn Lewis (11 points) and sophomore TaeKenya Cleveland (11 points) led AU women's basketball over UMBC, 61-48, on Wednesday. This was the first time Cleveland led the team in scoring as she hit a new career-high off the bench.
Senior Emily Kinneston fell two-points short of a double-double with eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds. She also led the Eagles with five assists.
Both teams had a slow start to the game, landing at a 4-4 tie after a two-minute scoring drought. Senior Io Chaney bumped AU up to a 6-4 lead before the game went another three minutes without a basket.
Lewis picked up the pace late in the first quarter, sinking a layup and a trey to give the Eagles an 11-7 lead heading into the break.
Cleveland stepped up early in the second quarter, landing a three of her own along with a layup to send the Eagles on a 9-2 run, eventually building up to an 11-point lead at 20-9. The Retrievers were able to close the gap in the latter half of the quarter, but AU maintained a six-point lead heading into the locker room, 25-19.
The Eagles held UMBC scoreless in the first five minutes of the third quarter with a 9-0 run. The Retrievers closed the quarter with only four field goals as AU took a 41-30 lead.
A pair of quick three's put UMBC back within five in the first minute of the fourth quarter, but Liddane turned the momentum back around with a pair of clutch layups. She closed the final 10 minutes with six points, followed closely by Kinneston with five.
The Eagles closed the game with a season-best eight turnovers. They led the Retrievers with 40.7 percent from the floor, 28 points in the paint, 11 points off turnovers and nine second-chance points. For the first time this season, the Eagles tied their opponents with 26 points off the bench.
SCOUTING THE PENGUINS
Youngstown State is coming off a 32-point loss to Robert Morris on Wednesday. The Penguins were led by junior Alison Smolinski who went 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, followed by senior Indiya Benjamin with 10 points. Junior Sarah Cash led the team with five rebounds.
YSU averages 62.2 ppg to their opponents' 63.2 ppg, and have shot 40.6 percent from the field, 33.7 percent from 3-point range, and 66.1 percent from the charity stripe. The Penguins average 31.2 rpg, 14.5 turnovers, 5.8 steals, and 13.5 assists per game.
Smolinski leads the team's overall scoring efforts with 11.5 ppg while Cash leads on the boards with 4.2 rebounds and Benjamin in assists with 4.2 per game.
At least two Eagles have hit double-figures in the last four games - George Mason (Michael Harris 15, Emily Kinneston 14, Kaitlyn Lewis 13), Vermont (Cecily Carl 21, Kinneston 16, Lewis 13), Villanova (Carl 11, Kinneston 10), and UMBC (Maria Liddane 11, TaeKenya Cleveland 11, Lewis 11). Out of those four games, six different Eagles have scored 10 points or more.
STRENGTH OFF THE BENCH
The Eagles have outscored their opponents' bench, 141-125, so far this season, averaging 20.1 ppg. La Salle (26-23) and Delaware (22-21) are the only two teams whose reserves have outscored the Eagles while UMBC tied at 26-26.
Junior Kaitlyn Lewis and sophomore Katie Marenyi have been the most consistent contributors out of the reserves and have been the only two players outside of the starters who have put in minutes in all seven games this season.
Lewis currently leads the bench with 8.0 ppg, shooting 33.3 percent (19-57) from the field and 35.7 percent (10-28) from 3-point range. She also averages 1.6 assists per game and 1.3 rpg.
Marenyi ranks sixth on the team with 4.7 ppg, shooting 37.9 percent (11-29) from the field and 20 percent (2-10) from long-range. She is third with 1.7 assists per game, fourth with 1.0 steals per game, and averages 2.0 rpg.
Lewis, senior Io Chaney and sophomore TaeKenya Cleveland have all come off the bench to lead the team in scoring this season. Lewis and Cleveland both a team-high 11 points against UMBC while Chaney led with 10 points against Delaware.
For both Cleveland and Chaney, those were the first games of their career that they led the Eagles in scoring.
THE SECOND HALF GRIND
The Eagles have outscored their opponents in the second half in five of their seven games this season, including the three most recent against Vermont, Villanova and UMBC.
Delaware (11/16) and George Mason (11/20) were the only two teams this year that held AU at bay in the second half.
Delaware extended its 3-point halftime lead to 16 points (72-56) by the final whistle with a 42-29 second-half performance.
George Mason, on the other hand, was held to a 3-point deficit by the Eagles at halftime but went on a 39-19 run in the final two quarters to win by 18 points (71-53).
AU was on the other side of that coin during the win over Vermont, as they trailed the Catamounts, 36-29, heading into halftime before putting up a 35-26 second half score to take the lead.
The Eagles had another impressive second-half run against Villanova, as they trailed the Wildcats, 39-24, after the first half. AU went on a 36-26 run in the second half, including a 26-10 fourth quarter, to fall just short of topping Villanova, 65-60.
FIRST TIME ATOP THE SCORESHEET
Sophomore TaeKenya Cleveland led the Eagles in scoring for the first time in her career on Wednesday, scoring 11 points alongside senior Maria Liddane and junior Kaitlyn Lewis. A new career-best for Cleveland, she shot 5-of-10 from the floor, 1-of-4 from 3-point range, and clocked in a career-high 15 minutes.
This was the second time this season that an Eagle led the team in scoring for the first time after senior Io Chaney put up a team-high 10 points against Delaware.
CARL GAINING MOMENTUM
Junior Cecily Carl was back atop the scoresheet for the Eagles last weekend, putting up back-to-back double-doubles for the first time in her career.
She led the team with 10 rebounds and tied her career-high with 21 points against Vermont before returning to post another career-high with 14 rebounds and 11 points against Villanova.
These were a long time coming for Carl, who had fallen just shy of double-doubles against Tulsa (9 pts., 11 reb.) and Delaware (9 pts., 10 reb.). She came into the season with five double-doubles from her freshman (two) and sophomore (three) campaigns.
She leads the team with 9.4 rpg and is second with 9.9 ppg.
KINNESTON PICKING RIGHT BACK UP
Emily Kinneston opened up her senior campaign just one point shy of her career-high, scoring 25 points to lead the Eagles to a 72-67 win over Tulsa.
Since then, Kinneston has landed in the double-figures in all but two games this season after being held to only five points during the Eagles' loss to Delaware, and eight points against UMBC.
Kinneston made up for both low-scoring performances on the boards, though, as she led the team with 11 rebounds against UMBC, and was No. 2 on the team with eight against Delaware. She also led the team with four assists against Delaware and five against UMBC.
Among those double-figure games was a thrilling performance against Vermont, where Kinneston helped lead the Eagles' fourth-quarter surge, eventually hitting the buzzer-beater to win the game off a baseline drive after an inbound from junior Elina Koskimies.
She leads the team with 12.6 ppg and 3.6 assists per game.
Tickets for this and all AU basketball home games can be purchased by clicking here.
For the latest on AU Women's Basketball, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_WBasketball.