Easton, Pa. – The American University women's basketball overcame an early deficit against Lafayette to extend its undefeated run in the Patriot League, 74-67.
The Eagles remain perfect in the league at 8-0, 15-4 overall, while the Leopards drop to 3-5 in the PL and 7-11 for the season.
Junior Elina Koskimies was back atop the Eagles' scoresheet for the second consecutive game with 16 points, shooting 4-for-7 from the perimeter and 5-for-9 overall from the floor. Junior Cecily Carl joined her with 16 points after she shot 4-for-8 from long-range and 6-for-13 from the field.
Senior Emily Kinneston was the only other Eagle to end in the double-figures with 15 points along with a team-high seven assists. Senior Michael Harris led the team on the boards with six rebounds and added two blocks.
American put up one of its highest shooting percentages of the season with 51 percent (26-for-51). The Eagles shot 11-for-25 from three-point range and had a season-high 21 assists.
The Leopards were led by Natalie Kucowski, who finished with the double-double with 14 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Anna Ptasinski and Alexis Santarelli both added a dozen points to Lafayette's final tally.
Lafayette shot a season-high 50 percent (25-for-50) from the field - the highest shooting percentage for an American opponent yet this season. The Leopards also had one of their best games of the season from the perimeter, shooting 9-for-20 for 45 percent. Lafayette led the Eagles on the boards with 31 rebounds.
The Leopards took an early lead after a three from Drew Freeland in the first 30 seconds of play. Lafayette took a 7-0 lead before a jumper from Kinneston put the Eagles on the board for the first time. The first quarter proved to be a battle from the perimeter, as Koskimies hit a pair of treys to bring the Eagles within one before another set of long-range shots from Lafayette's Natalie Kucowski and Olivia Martino built the Leopards largest lead of the game at 17-8.
AU made up quite a bit of ground in the final minutes of the stanza with jumpers from Kinneston and sophomore TaeKenya Cleveland, and a three from Harris, and the Eagles went into the first break at a four-point deficit, 19-15.
AU chipped away at Lafayette's lead throughout the early minutes of the second quarter before finally tying the game at 24-24 after junior Kaitlyn Lewis landed her first three of the day. The Eagles led by four as the clock wound down on the half, but a foul from Marenyi as Nia Holland put up the last-second layup put Holland on the line to make the three-point play and close the gap to one point at 34-35.
The two teams battled back-and-forth throughout the third quarter, tying the game three times and changing leads six times within the 10-minute stanza. A pair of treys from Koskimies, and one from Carl kept the Eagles in the hunt. AU rebuilt its five-point lead with less than a minute on the clock off of a jumper from Marenyi and a pair of free throws by senior Maria Liddane, but the gap was cut down once again by a last-second shot from Lafayette. This time, it was a well-contested three from Martino that brought the Leopards within two heading into the final quarter.
The Eagles maintained the lead throughout the final 10 minutes of play, gaining as much as an eight-point advantage after an unanswered five points from Carl and Koskimies. Late fouls by the Leopards, including two foul-outs for Santarelli and Stipa and an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Martino, put the Eagles on the line eight times in the final 30 seconds of play. Kinneston shot 5-for-6 and Harris hit 1 of 2 to pull AU to its final 74-67 lead.
This was the closest conference game for the Eagles since their five-point win over Navy on Jan. 5. In the four games since the Eagles have maintained a +16.3 point margin over their conference opponents.
American will close its two-game road swing on Wednesday with a 7:05 p.m. tipoff at Holy Cross. The Eagles will return home on Saturday, Jan. 27, against Colgate. Tickets for this and all AU home basketball games can be purchased here. AU students are admitted free to all home games with an AU ID.
For the latest on AU Women's Basketball, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_WBasketball.