March 1, 2008
WASHINGTON - Stephanie N'Garsanet scored a game-high 17 points to lead American University to a 60-57 overtime win in Patriot League women's basketball action at Lafayette on Saturday. The win clinches the PL title for the Eagles as well as the first seed in the conference tournament. The Eagles have won ten straight games for the first time since the 1997-98 season and finished the league season undefeated on the road. The win marks American's seventh straight road victory, a program record, and guarantees a spot in a post-season tournament.
Liz Hayes hit her first three of the game with 2:50 remaining in overtime to give American a 53-52 lead. Talicia Jackson extended the lead to three points, but was answered by a LaKeisha Wright three-point play to even the score at 55 a piece. Jackson hit one of two from the line (56-55) and a traveling violation on the Leopards gave the Eagles the ball with 55 seconds left in the extra frame. Pam Stanfield went 2-2 from the line but Brittany Purr answered the call, leaving American up, 58-57, with the ball and 11.6 on the clock. Lafayette fouled Jackson, who hit both from the charity stripe, and a Lafayette's desperation three at the buzzer came up short to give American its first ever conference championship in women's basketball.
Lafayette held a two point, 50-48, lead with 53 seconds remaining in regulation when Vanessa Van De Venter's fifth foul send N'Garsanet to the free throw line. N'Garsanet hit both to tie the game at 50-50. Michelle Kirk forced a steal at the other end of the court, giving the Eagles the ball with 41 seconds to play. Liz Leer was fouled under the basket on an offensive rebound attempt, sending her to the line to shoot two with 13.7 seconds on the clock. Leer missed both from the line, giving Lafayette the final shot with eight seconds left. AU forced a turnover on the inbounds coming out of a time-out but only had 2.7 seconds to work with and Jackson's three was too strong, forcing overtime.
Lafayette carried its momentum into the second half and took its first lead of the game early as they scored the first five points to lead 25-23. Jackson drained her third three of the game followed by a Stanfield fast break in the paint to put the Eagles back up a basket, but found themselves back down one as Jessica Spicer completed a conventional three-point play on the other end of the court.
American took a one point lead when N'Garsanet finished off an and-one but was quickly negated by a Lauren Jackson hoop, to put Lafayette back up on top, 35-34, half way through the second. Both teams exchanged baskets before the Leopards pulled out to a 43-40 advantage. N'Garsanet scored six consecutive Eagle points to put AU back on top, 46-44, with under five minutes remaining. Van De Venter tied the game for the tenth time in the half (48-48) with 1:49 left in regulation on a 15 foot jumper.
Neither offense was able to put points on the board until the 16:39 mark when Maggie Smith-Davidson gathered up a Jackson three attempt that was off the mark for the put-back. N'Garsanet drained a pair from the free-throw line and Jackson hit her next trey attempt to give American a 7-0 lead with 14:54 to play in the half. The Eagles extended their lead to 13-2 on Leer's first basket of the day.
AU would score its next six points from the charity stripe before Jackson nailed her second basket from behind the arc, putting the Eagles up 20-7. With American up 22-9 with 6:20 remaining, Lafayette put together a 9-0 run led by five Van De Venter points and trailed by just six, 22-18, with just over two minutes on the clock. Meaghan Malone scored on a Leopard fast break and the Eagles found their lead diminished to just two points with a minute to play. American forced a shot clock violation but could not convert the turnover into points at the other end of the floor. Lafayette missed a three at the buzzer to send the teams into the break with American leading 22-20.
N'Garsanet finished with a game-high 17 points, two blocks and two steals. Jackson scored 14 points and added seven rebounds and Leer led the team with nine rebounds.
Van De Venter led Lafayette with 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. Emily Garner scored 12 points and Wright finished with 11 points. Cristin Zavocki had five assists.
American will play the eighth seed, Colgate, on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Championship at Army's Christl Arena. The Eagles are in pursuit of their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.