Jan. 21, 2009
WASHINGTON - Michelle Kirk hit 10-of-16 baskets from the field for 20 points to lead the American University women's basketball team to its third straight Patriot League win, defeating Army by a 53-42 margin at Christl Arena on Wednesday. The Eagles improve to 13-6 on the season and 3-1 in the conference, while Army falls to 11-7 with a 2-2 mark in the league.
Both teams got good looks at the basket early on before American pulled out to a 12-7 lead following a Liz Leer basket at 14:10. From that point on both defenses buckled down, with Army netting the only basket over the next two minutes on a made shot from Erin Anthony. Leer scored her eighth points of the half and the Eagles converted back-to-back steals into three points on a Lisa Strack free throw and a Kirk bucket to lead 17-9 with 9:06 to play in the first.
Kirk and the Black Knights Alex McGuire got into a shootout over the next two minutes. Each player accounted for all of their team's points in that span, with Kirk holding a 6-5 advantage. Nicole Ryan added a basket to break up the streak at 4:29 with the Eagles up 25-16.
Kirk would tally her 12th points of the half and American would take a 27-20 lead into the break. The Eagles held the Black Knights to just 17 shots taken in the half, while connecting on 13-of-29 from the field. Army committed 12 first half turnovers compared the just four by American.
Army used four unanswered points to start the second half to close the American lead to three, trailing 27-24, following baskets by Megan Evans and McGuire. Kirk broke the Eagles scoring draught at the 17:20 mark and Talicia Jackson hit 1-of-2 from the stripe to give AU a 30-24 advantage.
The Black Knights pulled within two on a Courtney Wright field goal and took a 31-30 lead on McGuire's second three of the contest with 13:04 to play in the game. The Eagles continued to put the ball in the hands of Kirk and she continued to deliver, hitting a pair of mid-range jumpers from the left side of the lane to put AU back up 34-31. Not to be outdone, McGuire answered with a three-point basket on the other end of the court, and it was all knotted up at 34-apiece at 13:07.
Jackson connected on her first three-pointer of the game on the ensuing possession and American picked up a defensive stop that translated into a Leer basket to put the Eagles up 39-34. Jackson hit her second three and added a lay-up at 8:11 and extended the lead to eight (44-36). Kirk hit her career-high 10th field goal of the game to put the Eagles up 46-36 with just under seven to go.
Neither team was able to score over the next three and a half minutes, with Army being held scoreless since the nine-minute mark. The Black Knights pulled within seven, down 49-42, after the Eagles failed to convert from the stripe. Jackson put away two crucial free throws with 41 seconds to play to seal American's third straight conference win, 53-42.
Kirk's 20 points led all scorers and the sophomore forward chipped in two assists and two steals. Jackson finished with 15 points, including two threes to put her two buckets away from breaking the program record for career three-point baskets, and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Leer rounded out the Eagles scoring in double-digits with 14 points and added two blocks.
McGuire paced Army with 15 points. Evans and Anthony each grabbed a game-best eight rebounds in the loss for the Black Knights.
The Eagles will return to conference action on Saturday when the host league-leading Holy Cross at 2 p.m.