LEWISBURG, Pa. - The second-seeded American University women's basketball fought back time and again, but couldn't overcome the early deficit to one-seed Bucknell in the Patriot League Championship and fell to the Bison, 66-54.
The Eagles aren't done yet, though, as their share of the Patriot League regular-season title earned them an automatic bid into the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The 64-team field will be announced on Monday night, March 18.
- Three players landed in double-figures for the Eagles, starting with Patriot League Player of the Year Cecily Carl who hit 16 points off 6-for-10 shooting from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from the line.
- Junior Kaitlyn Marenyi followed with a dozen points while senior Kaitlyn Lewis closed with 11 alongside a team-high four assists.
- Senior Elina Koskimies led the team on the boards with six rebounds followed by five from Carl.
- The Eagles closed shooting 37.5 percent from the field (21-56) and 33.3 percent from three-point range (33.3).
- American was held to only 10 attempts from the free throw line (.600) while Bucknell had 22 appearances and shot 59.1 percent (13-22).
- The Bison were also led by three double-figure performers, starting with Kaitlyn Slagus' 23 points. Kyi English finished with 14 and Ellie Mack closed with 11.
- Slagus also led Bucknell on the boards with seven rebounds alongside Kate Walker.
- Bucknell closed shooting 48.9 percent from the field (23-47) and 43.8 percent from the perimeter (7-16).
- Production under the basket was a difference-maker throughout the game, as the Eagles were held to only 23 rebounds while the Bison pulled down 40. Bucknell closed with 13 second-chance points and 30 points in the paint while AU picked up only four second-chance points and 24 on the inside.
- American controlled the ball well, though, giving up only nine turnovers to Bucknell's 14.
- The Eagles' slow start haunted them for the rest of the game, as they fell to an early 7-0 deficit before a layup from Carl finally put them on the board.
- Bucknell gained a 10-point edge briefly before a closing run from Lewis and junior TaeKenya Cleveland cut the lead down to five with the teams sitting at 15-10 heading into the first break.
- The Bison jumped up to a 10-point lead again early in the second quarter but, as would be the case throughout the game, the Eagles slowly chipped away at that lead before a 4-0 run from Marenyi and a pair of free throws from Carl tied the game at 23-23 with 1:53 left in the half.
- Freshman Jade Edwards added another free throw to give AU its only lead of the game at 24-23 but a final four points from the Bison put them back ahead at the break, 27-24.
- The Eagles continued battling back throughout the third quarter, cutting an 11-point deficit down to four before another final-minute basket from Bucknell rebuilt the gap heading into the final stanza, 47-41.
- Back-to-back treys from Koskimies, Carl and Marenyi seemed to shift momentum back in favor of the Eagles midway through the fourth quarter, as they cut the lead back down to four at 56-52 with three minutes remaining. But American struggled on the defensive end, failing to get key stops as Bucknell maintained the cushion.
The Eagles will move on to their fourth postseason appearance in six seasons with an automatic berth in the WNIT. The bracket will be released on Monday, March 18, after the NCAA Selection Show, and the First Round will begin on Wednesday, March 20.
For the latest on American University Women's Basketball, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_WBasketball.