WASHINGTON - Career-record performances from senior Emily Kinneston and junior Cecily Carl pulled the American University women's basketball team to a 60-49 victory over Army West Point on Thursday and advanced the team to its sixth Patriot League Championship since 2004.
Army closed its season with an overall record of 17-14 (9-9 PL) while the Eagles secured the winningest season in program history at 25-6 overall (16-2 PL). The top-seeded American will host No. 3 Navy (25-6, 13-5 PL) at 11 a.m. in Bender Arena on Sunday for the Patriot League Championship game.
Senior Emily Kinneston led the team with a career-high 28 points, eclipsing her previous career-best by two points. Junior Cecily Carl added a career-high of her own, bringing down 16 rebounds, including 14 on the defensive end, to lead the team. She closed with nine points to just miss on her second consecutive double-double and eighth of the season. Carl, who earned her 100th career block during the PL quarterfinal win over Lafayette on Monday, added another four against Army and fell one shy tying her career-high of five.
The Eagles shot 22-for-59 from the field (.373) and 4-for-13 from long-range (.308) while also leading Army on the boards with 41 rebounds.
The Black Knights were led by a 12-point effort from Aliyah Murray followed by 11 points from Destinee Morris. Madison Hovren, who entered the game averaging a team-high 14.7 points per game, was held to only seven but brought down a team-high 12 rebounds.
Army was held to only 16-for-54 from the floor (.296) but had one of its best performances of the season from 3-point range, hitting 6 of 11 (.545).
The Eagles never trailed in the game after a jumper from senior Maria Liddane put AU on the board in the first possession. An unanswered five points from Army midway through the first quarter tied the game at 7-7, but back-to-back baskets from Kinneston to close the stanza put American back ahead at 11-7.
AU continued to build that lead throughout the second quarter, holding Army scoreless for over three minutes while a pair of layups from junior Kaitlyn Lewis and senior Michael Harris built the lead up to 15-7. By the end of the half, Kinneston added another nine points to push the margin into double-figures at 26-14, as the Eagles held the Black Knights to only seven points in both the first and second quarters.
Army hit the first couple of baskets in the second half to cut American's lead back down to eight points, but a 7-1 run from the Eagles gave them the largest lead of the game at 33-19 with just under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. A three from Morris after one of Army's nine offensive boards and a pair of free throws narrowed the gap back down to seven before back-to-back triples from junior Elina Koskimies and Carl brought the lead back up to 13 points. The Black Knights closed the quarter with four points to reel the Eagles back in as AU entered the final break with a 39-30 lead.
Both teams closed with their best offensive efforts of the game, as Army shot 5-for-11 and AU 6-for-14. The Black Knights crept up to within eight points on three occasions during the last 10 minutes, but each time the Eagles would respond to bring the deficit back up to double-figures, including a 6-2 run to build one of their largest leads of the quarter at 54-42. A layup from Liddane and four points from Kinneston put AU up by 13 with less than 30 seconds left on the clock, but Army's Janae McNeal had the final say as she hit a layup in the final 10 seconds to cut the lead down to 11 points at 60-49.
The No. 1 seeded Eagles will host No. 3 Navy in the Patriot League Tournament Championship in Bender Arena on Sunday, March 11, at 11 a.m. The game will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network.
Ticket prices for the championship game, set by the Patriot League, are $14 for adults and $7 for seniors and youth. AU students will be admitted free with a valid AU ID. Rates for groups with 10+ are $4 per person. Tickets are on sale now via AUEagles.com/Tickets. Fans can also visit the Athletics Ticket Office in person, or call (202) 885-TIXX (8499) on Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Bender Arena box office will re-open for walk-up sales at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. Parking will be free in the Bender Arena garage on Sunday, and fans are encouraged to arrive early to the championship game with doors to the arena opening at 9:30 a.m.
For the latest on American University Women's Basketball, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_WBasketball.