WASHINGTON - The American University women's basketball team opened its Patriot League slate with a 68-58 win over Bucknell, overcoming late fouls to edge the defending PL champs.
The Eagles will enter the New Year at 8-4 overall and 1-0 in the Patriot League while the Bison fall to 6-6 overall, 0-1 in the league.
Junior Cecily Carl led the team with a 16-point effort, shooting 6-for-8 from the field and 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Classmate Elina Koskimies joined Carl in the double-figures with 10 points along with a team-high eight rebounds.
The Eagles shot a season-high 46.2 percent (24-for-52) from the field and had one of their best performances from long-range with 42.9 percent (6-for-14). They struggled from the free throw line, though, hitting only 14 of 24 for a season-low 58.3 percent.
Bucknell was led by a career-high 23 points from Kate Walker. She was the only player on the Bison squad to reach double-figures, and also led the team with eight rebounds alongside Tessa Brugler.
The Bison shot 36.2 percent from the field (21-for-58), 19 percent from 3-point range (4-for-21), and 60 percent from the free throw line (12-for-20).
AU had a slow start to the game, dropping to an early deficit and trailing Bucknell throughout the majority of the first quarter. A 5-0 run from sophomore Katie Marenyi and Carl gave the Eagles a brief three-point lead with two minutes left in the quarter, but they fell back to a one-point disadvantage by the whistle after a 6-2 run from the Bison.
The Eagles put up a strong defensive effort in the second quarter, holding Bucknell to only nine points while closing with a 6-0 run to take a five-point lead by halftime.
A 12-0 run maintained the Eagles' momentum into the second half as they built up to a 17-point lead at 42-25 after the first four minutes of the half. AU held a double-figure cushion throughout the third quarter with a 23-14 performance, shooting 50 percent from the field behind a six-point effort from Kinneston and another five points from Marenyi.
Late fouls threatened AU during the fourth quarter, as Kinneston fouled out with three minutes left on the clock and Carl picked up her fourth. The Bison also landed in some foul trouble after Abby Kapp fouled out in the final minute and Kyi English and Kate Walker both reached four fouls.
Both teams struggled to capitalize off the line, though, as Bucknell shot 63.6 percent (7-for-11) and AU hit 33.3 percent (3 of 12) in the final 10 minutes. By the final whistle, it was key treys from Carl and Koskimies that made the difference as the Eagles held off the Bucknell offense.
The Eagles will be back on the road at Colgate on Jan. 2 before returning to Bender Arena to host Navy at 7 p.m. on Jan. 5. 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.