WASHINGTON - For the second consecutive season the American University women's basketball team will fight for the Patriot League Championship after the second-seeded Eagles overpowered three-seed Lehigh in Bender Arena on Thursday, 68-57.
AU will look to make history on Sunday with the program's first back-to-back Patriot League title and berth into the NCAA Tournament. But the Eagles will first have to face the only conference team to beat them this year with host No. 1 Bucknell.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Player of the Year Cecily Carl paced the Eagles with an impressive double-double performance, scoring a game-high 20 points while pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds. This is her fourth double-double of the season and 17th of her career.
- Fellow-senior Kaitlyn Lewis was next with one of her best performances of the season, scoring 17 points while pitching in four assists.
- Freshman Jade Edwards picked up 14 points alongside her seven boards while junior Kaitlyn Marenyi scored 13 while leading the team with five assists and four steals.
- The Eagles closed shooting 46.9 percent from the field (23-49) and 40.0 percent from the perimeter (4-10) after opening with 57.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc (4-7) in the first half. AU was also back over 80 percent from the free throw line, shooting 81.8 percent (18-22) behind a perfect 6-for-6 performance from Marenyi.
- American controlled the ball well, giving up only eight turnovers to Lehigh's 10, but struggled on the offensive boards, pulling down only four rebounds while Lehigh converted 11 recoveries to 18 second-chance points.
- The Eagles pitched in 16 assists on their 23 field goals.
- The Mountain Hawks were led by a pair of double-figure efforts, starting with the 17 points from Camryn Buhr. Gena Grundhoffer also added 13.
- Cameryn Benz led the team on the boards with seven rebounds.
- Carl set the tempo early, hitting a three in the opening possession to take a lead that would last for nearly the entire game.
- A pair of layups from Edwards and Carl put the Eagles up by five midway through the stanza, but Lehigh responded with a closing 9-2 run to take their largest lead of the game at 17-15 by the close of the first quarter.
- It was a tight game early in the second quarter before a set of clutch three's from Edwards, Marenyi and Carl put AU back up by six at 34-28 with just under 5:00 left in the half.
- Lewis also contributed to that run, hitting a quick four points from inside the paint as the Eagles continued to pick up the tempo.
- Lehigh managed to cut that lead down to one in the final minutes of the half, but a final trey from Carl sent the teams into the locker room with a three-point gap at 38-35.
- The Mountain Hawks tied the game up once more midway through the third quarter, but Lewis picked it back up for the Eagles with four unanswered points to bring the Eagles back up by five, 50-45.
- It was all AU in the fourth quarter as the Eagles slowly built on that lead throughout the final 10 minutes. A fastbreak layup from Sanders with nine seconds left on the clock gave American its largest and final lead of the game at 68-57.
The Patriot League title will be on the line on Sunday as the Eagles travel to Lewisburg, Pa., to face Bucknell at noon. The game will be broadcast live on the CBS Sports Network.
For the latest on American University Women's Basketball, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_WBasketball.
TICKET INFO FOR AU FANS PLANNING TO ATTEND PL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AT BUCKNELL
AU fans and alumni planning to attend the Patriot League Tournament Championship at Bucknell this Sunday (Noon at Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.) are encouraged to reserve tickets in the American fan seating block, and can do so by calling the Athletics Tickets office at (202) 885-TIXX or by emailing Clawed@american.edu with contact information and a representative will call you back. All tickets in the AU fan section must be purchased by Friday at 5 p.m. Tickets prices for the championship game, set by the Patriot League, are $14 for adults and $7 for AU students, seniors (65+) and youth (under 13).