Jan. 24, 2009
WASHINGTON - The American University women's basketball team used 31 free throw attempts to pull away from Patriot League foe Holy Cross, taking a 64-58 decision at Bender Arena on Saturday. Michelle Kirk and Nicole Ryan had big days for the Eagles scoring 18 and 17 points on the day.
Kirk gave the Eagles a 10-9 lead early on in the first half and Liz Leer knocked down a jumper at 12:55 to give American a three point advantage. Ryan connected on a pair of free throws after being fouled on her way to the hoop and extended the American run to six unanswered points and a 14-9 margin.
Holy Cross made a run at the deficit and took a three point 26-23 lead before Ryan connected on a basket from beyond the arc to knot it up at 26-26 with 3:52 to play in the half. Both sides played solid defense over the final few minutes and the Eagles took a 29-28 lead into the break. American hit 11-of-12 from the line and Holy Cross had just five attempts from the stripe.
The score continued to remain tight in the early minutes of the second half. American had a two point lead when a foul sent Kirk to the line to shoot two. She hit one of two, but the Eagles corralled the offensive board and Kirk earned her way back to the charity stripe on the ensuing possession. This time the Painted Post, N.Y. native made no mistake with the two shots and AU led 39-34.
The Crusaders found themselves in foul trouble with 13:19 to play and the Eagles would play in the bonus the rest of the way out. Raven Harris knocked down a three-point basket and extended the AU lead to 46-40 with just under 12 minutes to go. American built a seven point lead (53-46), its biggest of the game at 6:42 when Ebony Edwards connected for three.
The Eagles maintained a seven point advantage with under three minutes to play but the Crusaders pulled within four with less than a minute to go, trailing 62-58. With Holy Cross holding possession Leer and Brianna McFadden tied up a loose ball and the arrow gave the ball back to the Eagles. Ryan sealed the game after making two free throws and AU would win its fourth straight league contest, winning 64-58.
Holy Cross was paced by McFadden and Whitney Fremeau, who each scored 12 points apiece.
The Eagles will return to action on Wednesday when they host Navy at 7 p.m. at Bender Arena.