WASHINGTON - The American University women's basketball team clinched the program's sixth regular season title on Wednesday with a 72-57 win over Holy Cross as the Eagles swept the Crusaders for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
For the first time since the 1970s, AU concluded its regular season home schedule undefeated at 13-0. The Eagles also extend its record-breaking win streak to 17 consecutive games as they enter the final two regular-season games with a 23-4 overall record, 16-0 in the Patriot League.
The last time the Eagles won the Patriot League regular season title was during the 2014-15 season when they went 16-2 in league play before claiming the program's first tournament title to advance into the NCAA Tournament.
Senior Maria Liddane led the Eagles with 17 points, falling just two short of tying her career-high. Classmate Emily Kinneston followed with 15 points while junior Cecily Carl added 13 and a team-high six rebounds. Kinneston also contributed a team-high four assists alongside junior Elina Koskimies.
The Eagles shot 39.7 percent from the field (23-for-58) and 26.3 percent from the perimeter (5-for-19). AU closed with a season-high 29 points off turnovers after forcing 22 from Holy Cross.
Holy Cross was led by 13 points from Lauren Manis. Jenay Faulkner added a dozen along with 10 rebounds to complete the double-double.
The Crusaders shot 35.2 percent from the field (19-for-54) and 35.0 percent from three-point range (7-for-20). They led the Eagles on the boards with 42 rebounds.
A three from Carl during the first possession gave the Eagles an early lead. A 6-0 run after jumpers from Koskimies, Kinneston and Liddane gave AU its largest lead of the first half at 9-2 after the first three minutes of play. A pair of three's from Holy Cross cut that lead down to two with less than five minutes left in the stanza, but Kinneston responded with two trey's of her own to bring the Eagles back up by three heading into the break.
The Crusaders came out strong in the second quarter, hitting an early 7-0 run to take a 23-19 lead. A basket from sophomore Katie Marenyi and a pair of free throws from Carl tied the game at 25-25 with five minutes left in the half. The Crusaders took one more brief lead before a pair of layups from Liddane closed the half with AU back ahead by four at 35-31.
The Eagles maintained the lead through the remainder of the game, gapping the Crusaders by 10 points after Kinneston's third trey of the game midway through the third quarter.
They continued building on that lead throughout the final stanza, hitting an 8-0 run to lead by 12 heading into the final three minutes of play. Late fouls from the Crusaders put Liddane, Marenyi, and Kinneston on the line during the final minute of play where they shot 8-for-10 to close with the final 15-point advantage at 72-57.
American will close the regular season on the road with games at Bucknell (Feb. 24) and Navy (Feb. 28). The Eagles will return to Bender Arena for the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal round on Monday, March 5. Ticket prices for the quarterfinal game, set by the Patriot League, are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and youth. Rates for groups with 10+ are $3 per person. Tickets are now on sale via AUEagles.com/Tickets. Fans can also visit the Athletics Ticket Office in person, or call (202) 885-TIXX (8499) Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
For the latest on American University Women's Basketball, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_WBasketball.