NCAA TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND
Game 33 · 14-Seed American (26-6, 16-2 PL) vs. Three-Seed UCLA (24-7, 14-4 Pac-12)
Saturday, March 17, 2018 · 3:30 p.m. ET (3:45 p.m. ET tip) · Los Angeles, Calif. (Pauley Pavilion)
All-Time Record: First Meeting
Broadcasters: Tiffany Greene (play-by-play) and Chiney Ogwumike (analyst)
How to Watch: The game will air live on ESPN2 to fans located in California and the DMV. All other states will have whip-around coverage. Fans can also stream the game on WatchESPN.
LOS ANGELES - The American University women's basketball team will make its second NCAA Tournament appearance in four years on Saturday as the 14-seeded Eagles are set to face third-seeded UCLA in Pauley Pavilion at 3:30 p.m. ET.
The Eagles extended their record-breaking season to 26-6 overall (16-2 PL) after the 58-49 victory over Navy on Sunday to win the program's second Patriot League Tournament title. The Bruins (24-7, 14-4 Pac-12) enter the NCAA First Round contest after falling to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinal round, 65-62.
This will be the series debut between American and UCLA in women's basketball. The Eagles and Bruins recently met on the soccer pitch, when AU stunned then-No. 1 UCLA, 2-1, in overtime in a 2014 clash.
This is not the first Pac-12 that the Eagles have faced, though. American is 1-4 against the conference after notching a 72-64 win over Oregon during the 2014 South Point Thanksgiving Shootout. The Eagles have also faced Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Washington State.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES
American earned its second Patriot League title in four years after a 58-49 victory over Navy on Sunday. Junior Cecily Carl led the team with 20 points while senior Emily Kinneston was limited to 14 points, 10 of which came during the fourth quarter after she went 6-for-6 from the line. AU shot 17-for-50 from the field (.340), 6-for-16 from the perimeter (.375) and 18-for-21 (.857) from the line.
Kinneston closed the Patriot League slate as the only player in the league to lead her team in both scoring (15.8 ppg) and assists (4.3 apg). Carl, who leads the team in rebounding with 8.3 rpg, also ranks second in scring with 12.9 ppg.
AU was among the top defensive teams in the Patriot League, holding its opponents to only 57.4 ppg (.353). The Eagles average 14.5 assists and only 12.8 turnovers per game.
SCOUTING THE BRUINS
UCLA, ranked ninth in the country in the latest AP and USA Today polls, fell to a late Oregon rally during the semifinal of the Pac-12 tournament on Saturday, 65-62. Senior Jordin Canada led the Bruins with 19 points, followed by senior Monique Billings with 18 and junior Kennedy Burke with 14. Billings also closed with a team-high nine rebounds. UCLA hit 27 of 68 from the floor, 4 of 17 from three-point range, and 4-for-6 from the line.
UCLA enters the contest with a seven-game win streak at home in Pauley Pavilion. This is the 15th tournament appearance for the Bruins, and they enter with an all-time record of 15-14. The last time UCLA fell in the first round was to Minnesota on March 21, 2004 (92-81).
Canada leads the team with 16.8 ppg after averaging 21.6 points in the last seven games while hitting four double-doubles. She ranks in the top-10 of the country for assists, averaging 6.9 per game.
Billings leads the team on the boards with 9.7 rpg while also averaging 15.2 ppg. Burke rounds out the scorers in double-figures with 10.3 ppg.
The Bruins average 75.1 ppg off 42.6 percent shooting from the field while holding their opponents to 62.4 ppg and 38.6 percent shooting.
THE LAST TIME IN THE TOURNEY
This marks the second time that AU has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The first was during the 2014-15 season when head coach Megan Gebbia, then in her second year with the program, led the team to a record-breaking season at 24-9 overall to win the Patriot League Tournament title and advance into the big dance.
The 14th-seeded AU women's team put up a tough battle against third-seeded Iowa in the first round of the tournament but eventually fell to the host Hawkeyes, 75-67.
Senior Jen Dumiak led the Eagles with 23 points and nine assists, while senior Arron Zimmerman and junior Ari Booth both added 17 points. Zimmerman and Booth both posted career highs with five made three-pointers while Booths scoring output was also a personal best.
American shot over 48 percent from the field and over 54 percent from long range in the opening half, but cooled off in the second, shooting 39 percent. Meanwhile, Iowa shot 54 percent after the intermission and was 5-for-7 from long range.
TOP 50 RPI
American RPI ranking is 46 entering the NCAA Tournament. This season, the Eagles faced five opponents in the top-100 RPI and are 4-4 with wins over Penn State (93), Bucknell (91), and twice against Navy (71).
UCLA is 10th in RPI entering the Tournament.
WIN A LOT, LOSE TO POSTSEASON QUALIFIERS
They say if you're going to lose, lose to a team that is worthy of defeat. The Eagles dropped six hard-fought contests, all away from Bender Arena and against teams that qualified for the postseason - Delaware (WNIT), George Mason (WNIT), Villanova (NCAA), George Washington (NCAA), Bucknell (WNIT), and Navy (WNIT).
AND THE AWARD GOES TO...
Four Eagles were selected for Patriot League awards, including head coach Megan Gebbia and senior Emily Kinneston, who were chosen for three of the league's five major awards.
Gebbia earned her second Patriot League Coach of the Year selection, while Kinneston was voted for her first Player of the Year nod. Kinneston, who wasn't voted on the Preseason All-League Team, also made her first appearance on the Patriot League First Team.
Kinneston, a biology major who holds a 3.79 cumulative GPA, is the fifth player in Patriot League history to win both the Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year in a single season. The last student-athlete to achieve that feat was AU alumna Jen Dumiak in 2014-15. She is only the latest in an impressive line of AU Scholar-Athlete of the Year winners. An Eagle has now won the award in six of the last seven years, including three of the four since Coach Gebbia and her staff arrived. Since joining the Patriot League in 2001, an American player has been selected for the honor eight times.
Senior Maria Liddane also made her first appearance on the All-League release after being selected for both the Third Team and All-Defensive Team.
Junior Cecily Carl earned her third career all-league nod, making the Second Team for the first time. She was a Third Team selection in 2017 and made the All-Rookie Team in 2016. Carl was also voted as the Patriot League Tournament MVP while Kinneston was selected to the All-Tournament Team.
Cecily Carl became the fifth player in program history to break 500 rebounds and 100 blocks on March 5 against Lafayette. She entered the game after already cracking the 500-rebound barrier during the Feb. 17 win, also over Lafayette, and now sits with 107 career blocks.
The last player to reach both of these career milestones was Stephanie Anya (2009-13), who closed her career with 529 rebounds and 117 blocks.
Carl is also on pace to break 1,000 points in the first half of next season, which would put her in the company of only Liz Leer (2007-11) and Kirsten Keller (1991-95) to have broken milestones in all three categories (scoring, rebounding, blocks). She is currently averaging 10.4 ppg for her career with a total tally of 926 points.
Carl joined elite company after becoming the 19th player in program history to reach the 500-rebound plateau. She picked up another 35 during her last three games to bring her total up to 551 for No. 16 in the program record book.
1K FOR KINNESTON
Senior Emily Kinneston became the 18th player in AU women's basketball history to reach 1,000 points on Feb. 14 against Boston University. Her current career total of 1,126 points has her at No. 12 in the program record book.
She is the first player to reach this historic milestone since Jen Dumiak (2011-15), who closed her career at No. 4 in the AU record book with 1,399 career points.
LOOKING FOR THAT BOOKEND
Five of the six members of the Class of 2018 - Kate Bond, Io Chaney, Michael Harris, Asha Henley, Emily Kinneston, and Maria Liddane - are looking to repeat their historic freshman season.
Kate Bond, Michael Harris, Asha Henley, Emily Kinneston, and Maria Liddane were all members of that historic 2014-15 squad that went 24-9 (16-2 PL) before beating Lehigh, 66-50, in the PL Championship to advance to the NCAA First Round where they fell to Iowa, 75-67.
Seniors Emily Kinneston and Maria Liddane closed conference play as two of the top players in the Patriot League in assists. Kinneston was first in the overall PL stats with 4.3 assists per game while Liddane is sixth with 3.0 per game.
Kinneston is the only player in the Patriot League to lead her team in both scoring (15.8 ppg) and assists.
Liddane and Kinneston also sit 1-2 the conference in assist/turnover ratio. This time, though, it's Liddane who leads (1.9 overall, 2.6 in conference play) followed by Kinneston (1.8 overall, 2.1 in conference play).
Kinneston and Liddane have played roles in at least 56.7 percent (1,167 pts.) of AU's total points this year, either with the assist or as a point-scorer. Kinneston has had a hand in 797 points (133 ast., 491 pts.), and Liddane 370 points (96 ast., 178 pts.).
The Eagles were second overall with 14.5 assists per game, and led with a 1.1 assist/turnover ratio.
In the conference-only stats, AU leads in both categories with 15.8 apg and a 1.3 assist/turnover ratio.
THAT 1-2 PUNCH
Senior Emily Kinneston and junior Cecily Carl are among the strongest duos in the Patriot League, combining to average 27.4 ppg and 12.9 rpg. The pair is responsible for 42.6 percent of American's overall 2,059 point tally, and have brought down 36.9 percent of all rebounds.
For the latest on AU Women's Basketball, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_WBasketball.