LOS ANGELES - The American University women's basketball fell after a tight battle against No. 3 seed UCLA during Saturday's first round in the NCAA Tournament, 71-60.
The Eagles close their historic season with a 26-7 overall record (16-2 PL) while the Bruins will advance to the tournament's second round on Monday with a 25-7 record (14-4 Pac-12).
In an exciting foreshadowing for next season, it was a pair of juniors who led the way for the Eagles starting with Cecily Carl who earned her eighth double-double of the season with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Classmate Elina Koskimies joined her with 13 points and seven rebounds. Both shot well from the perimeter after Carl hit 4 of 6 and Koskimies 3 of 6.
The Bruins, who are fifth in the NCAA for offensive boards, were held to only 33 rebounds while the Eagles brought down a game-high 36. The team hit 24 of 56 (.429) from the field and 9 of 23 (.391) from the perimeter.
UCLA was led by a double-double from Monique Billings (20 points, 10 rebounds). Kennedy Burke added another 15 while Jordin Canada, who came in with 20 or more points in five of the last six games and an average of 16.8 ppg, was held to only 10.
The Bruins shot 26 of 60 (.433) from the field, 8 of 15 (.533) from the perimeter, and 11 of 14 (.786) from the line.
American took the lead midway through the first quarter after five unanswered points from Liddane and Carl gave the Eagles a 9-5 advantage. The Eagles struggled to maintain the momentum, though, after a series of turnovers sent the Bruins on a 17-1 run. A final second three from UCLA's Lajahna Drummer closed the quarter with AU trailing, 27-12.
The Bruins came out strong in the second as they built their largest lead of the game after a trey from Canada in the first minute. The Eagles were quick to rally, though, as Carl and Harris brought down some key defensive boards before back-to-back triples from Carl and Koskimies closed the gap back to 10 points at 30-20.
By the end of the half, the Eagles cut UCLA's lead down to 13 points after a three from junior Kaitlyn Lewis closed the quarter at 38-25.
American continued to close in on UCLA throughout the third quarter behind the 12-point effort of Carl, who shot 5-for-7 from the field and 2-for-3 from the perimeter. Koskimies, who built up to a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 3-for-3 from 3-point range midway through the stanza, added another six to bring the Eagles back within 10.
The Eagles controlled the boards for much of the third quarter as a three from Carl and a layup from Liddane brought the Eagles back within four at 45-41 with less than five minutes left in the stanza. A series of three's by UCLA rebuilt the gap to nine by the end of the quarter, though, as the teams entered the final 10 minutes at 57-48.
The battle in the paint proved to be the difference maker down the stretch, though, after the Bruins outscored AU 12-6 from the inside in the final quarter to close the game with the final 71-60 tally.
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