March 9, 2008
WEST POINT, N.Y - The American University women's basketball team's quest for its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth ended on Sunday, as the Eagles fell to Bucknell, 60-52, in the Patriot League semifinals held at Army's Christl Arena. Joyce Novacek led the Bison with a double-double, scoring 18 points and adding 13 rebounds, as American saw its win-streak halted at a program-record 11 games.
American finally got into a shooting rhythm with under a minute to play, but unfortunately it was too late. Liz Hayes and Pam Stanfield hit back-to-back threes with time winding down followed by a pair of baskets from Talicia Jackson and Liz Leer to get within 59-52, but time ran out on the Eagles, as they fell by a final of 60-52.
The Eagles used a 13-2 run in the early minutes of the second half to climb within seven, 38-31, but did not have an answer for Novecek, who scored 13 of Bucknell's first 18 second half points to lead the Bison to the conference finals. American had chances late in the game to make a run, picking up numerous offensive boards, but could not get shots from beyond the arc to fall.
American (18-13) was held to just 18 points in the first half, shooting 20 percent (6-30) from the field. The Eagles held a 3-2 lead a minute and a half in on a Liz Hayes three-point basket, but could not get a shot to roll and Bucknell used a 7-0 run to pull away. The Bison led 26-18 with 11 seconds remaining in the half after Stephanie N'Garsanet hit a pair of shots from the free-throw line to cut the deficit to eight, but Bucknell's Kesha Champion sunk a three at the buzzer to leave the Eagles trailing by 11, 29-18, at halftime.
American had three double-digit scorers and double-digit rebounders in the loss. Stanfield scored a career-high 17 points and had five assists. Jackson recorded her first career double-double, scoring 11 points and adding 10 rebounds, while Liz Hayes scored 10 points. Maggie Smith-Davidson picked up a team-high 12 boards, while N'Garsanet had 11.
The Eagles had a 50-44 advantage on the boards, including 22 offensive rebounds. Bucknell held American to just a 24.3 (17-70) shooting percentage from the field.
Bucknell (15-15) was led by Novacek's double-double and also got scoring efforts from Lauren Schober with 14 points and Champion finished with 11 points.
American will now have a week before it finds out its post-season fate. As the Patriot League Regular Season Champion, the Eagles are guaranteed a berth to the WNIT. Selections and seeds will be announced late on Monday, March 17.