Feb. 28, 2009
WASHINGTON - The American University women's basketball team defeated Lafayette 75-54 Saturday to lock in sole possession of second place in the Patriot League. It was the final regular season game for seniors Talicia Jackson, Sahar Nusseibeh and Pam Stanfield, who were honored before tip-off.
Emily Garner put up the first points to give the Leopards their only lead of the game. AU quickly tied it up just 30 seconds later thanks to a layup by Liz Leer. Tight defense by Lafayette kept the score close but the Eagles' high tempo offense, combined with Lafayette turnovers, gave the Eagles a 19-9 lead with 8:40 remaining in the first half.
Nicole Ryan and Michelle Kirk widened American's lead with sharp shooting while pressure by the Eagles' defense kept the Leopards from advancing. Liz Leer hit four of five field goal attempts to give American a 34-21 lead over Lafayette at the half.
Lafayette picked up the pace in the second half but freshman Lisa Strack helped the Eagles keep up. AU pushed the lead to 53-35 with 12:13 remaining in the game. An intentional foul by Lafayette's Melissa Downey on a breakaway by Strack gave the Eagles two more on the board.
Talicia Jackson hit a three just two minutes after coming back to the court, followed by two free throws by Michelle Kirk to give AU a 20 point lead with 7:56 left in the game. Kristin Coles and Leer stepped up to put AU ahead, 68-46.
A three by Raven Harris made it 73-46 and gave the Eagles a 27 point lead, their largest of the game, with just 2:54 remaining. Lafayette returned with strong shooting by Garner, but the Leopards were not able to close the gap.
The final score at the buzzer was 75-54, giving the Eagles sole possession of second place in the Patriot League regular season. Ryan led the Eagles in points with 16 to her name, followed by Leer with 14. Jackson, Nusseibeh and Stanfield joined the Eagles as freshmen and have left their mark on the program. "We sold them a vision, and we sold them on the idea that they could come here and build a quality basketball program," said Head Coach Matt Corkery, who recruited the trio. "They definitely helped build the program. It's really a special accomplishment for them." Corkery also commended the seniors on their role in preparing the team. "The seniors have done a really nice job of mentoring the younger players," he said. "I think you'll see their legacy passed down."
Corkery acknowledged that the challenge now is being physically and mentally prepared for the tournament, calling it a "second season...a level playing field." The Patriot League women's basketball tournament quarterfinals will be played on Saturday, March 7th at Lehigh. No. 2 American will play No. 7 Lafayette at 5 p.m.