Feb. 7, 2009
WASHINGTON - Senior guard Talicia Jackson set a new school record for career three-pointers as the American University women's basketball team defeated Lehigh 65-56 to tie for first place in the Patriot League.
"We brought a different intensity level today. We really played harder," Head Coach Matt Corkery said. "We made ourselves more difficult to guard on the offensive end and did a better job in the transition defense."
The Eagles got on the board early with a pair of free throws by Pam Stanfield. American doubled up the score to 4-0 with a layup by redshirt junior Nicole Ryan. The Mountain Hawks were close behind and posted with a layup by Courtney Molinaro. A three by Alex Ross gave Lehigh a 7-6 lead at 15:11, its first and only lead of the game. The home team was quick to fight back with a three of its own thanks to Michelle Kirk. Back to back layups by both teams kept the gap at 2 until Lehigh's Alexa Williams tied it up at 11.
With just over 13 minutes remaining in the period, the Eagles started a breakaway with a three by Nicole Ryan. The teams traded rebounds but the Eagles' persistence paid off and the lead widened. Layups by Ashley Yencho and Liz Leer put American up by nine at 9:03 but the Mountain Hawks answered back with a jumper by Erica Prosser.
Senior guard Jackson dropped in a three to bring the score to 25-15. It was Jackson's 148th career three-pointer, breaking the previous record held by Kari Gaskins (1995-99).
Lehigh came back with a pair of free throws and yet another layup by Prosser, making the score to 29-21. With less than four minutes remaining, Michelle Kirk's made her second trey in three attempts carried the Eagles to a 34-23 lead. Pam Stanfield's layup was not enough to hold off the Mountain Hawks for the last three minutes and Lehigh cut AU's lead to 36-31 at the half.
The Mountain Hawks started off the second half with a layup by Courtney Molinaro to bring the score to 36-33, but the Eagles quickly recovered with a layup and a three by Ryan. Jackson collected another three extending her AU record to 149. After the game Coach Corkery said he was extremely proud of Jackson, crediting her success to her dedication. "She's a tireless worker," Corkery noted. "She made herself a great shooter because of hard work."
The Eagles kept the lead through the remainder of the half, trading shots with the Mountain Hawks. The 65-56 final score improves the Eagles record to 16-7 (6-2), tying with Lehigh 17-6 (6-2) for first place in the Patriot League.
Sophomore forward Liz Leer sank five of six field goal attempts to finish with 10 points. Classmate Brittany Bell stepped up with solid rebounding (6) and great energy. Nicole Ryan led the Eagles with 16 points, including two three-pointers. Ryan was followed by Pam Stanfield with 13 points and Michelle Kirk with 12, including two three-pointers. Jackson finished with six points and a team-high seven rebounds.
The game was part of a special day of events including National Girls and Women in Sports Day and Think Pink, the WBCA's pink zone breast cancer initiative. Members from all of AU's women's teams conducted a youth clinic after the game. 1,177 fans turned out for the game, setting a new attendance record for women's basketball at Bender Arena.
"The energy we got from the crowd kept players in the game and helped us keep our focus," said Corkery.
On Wednesday Feb. 11, the Eagles will take on Bucknell (11-9, 3-4) in a 7 p.m. game at Bender Arena.