March 3, 2007
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Sophomore guard Nicole Ryan (Clearwater, Fla./Clearwater) registered a career-high 25 points and Liz Hayes (Easton, Pa./Easton) chipped in with 21 points of her own to lead American University women's basketball into the Patriot League semifinals with a 68-55 victory over Navy Saturday afternoon in Alumni Hall.
American led from wire to wire in the first half, gaining its biggest lead of the opening 20 with 49 seconds remaining on the clock. Pam Stanfield (College Park, Md./Riverdale Baptist) drove through the lane and kicked the pass out to Ryan open beyond the arch. On fire, the Clearwater, Fla., native drained the bucket to give American momentum to carry over to the second.
Navy came out of the lockerroom with other plans in mind, the Midshipmen opened the second on a 6-0 run, with Kate Hobbs netting four of the points and Betsy Burnett getting in on the action with a bucket of her own. Burnett finished with a team-high 16 points, while Hobbs contributed 14 in the loss. With the hosts taking their first lead of the day, 39-38, American Head Coach Melissa McFerrin called a time-out. This was exactly what the Eagles needed, coming out of the huddle on a 10-0 run. Ryan started the scoring off for AU connecting on a three-point play and carrying it from there. The day's top scorer went on to hit another trey and senior Abby Lipskis (Norfolk, Va./Norfolk Collegiate) joined in and tallied the other four points.
American University stayed on top for the remainder of the game, with Hayes hitting a three to give American a 54-43 advantage with just over 10 minutes remaining. Ryan tallied two more buckets and went 6-6 from the free-throw line while Hayes shot 6-8 from the charity stripe, giving AU some breathing room as time winded down.
Ryan led all-scorers with her career-high 25 points, including five buckets from three-point land. The guard is now in American University's all-time record book for three-point field goals made in a game. Lipskis finished with seven points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. AU also recorded a season-low nine turnovers in the win.
This is the first time since the 2003-04 season that American University will advance to the Patriot League semifinals. Similarly enough, it was a win over Navy that led the Eagles to the next round, eventually going on to the championship game. The 68-55 win also marks McFerrin's first post-season victory as head coach.
American University women's basketball takes on the No. 8 seed Colgate at 1 p.m. tomorrow in Annapolis (Alumni Hall) in the tournament semifinals. The Raiders upset first-place Bucknell earlier on Saturday to advance to the next round. Colgate and American split their two regular season games earlier this year.