March 7, 2009
Bethlehem, Pa. - The American University women's basketball team fell to Lafayette on Saturday, 58-56, in Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal action at Lehigh's Stabler Arena. Michelle Kirk led American (19-11, 9-5) with 17 points, while Nicole Ryan had 11 in the defeat.
Lafayette (9-21, 2-12) jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, but a Liz Leer jumper capped an 8-0 run to give American an early 8-4 advantage. The Leopards, however, stormed back with a 17-4 run to push the score to 21-12. A Talicia Jackson three-pointer at the 4:28 mark broke a seven-plus minute American scoreless drought to cut the Lafayette advantage to six, 21-15.
But Lafayette continued the hot shooting to extend its lead to 15 points before a Kirk bucket at the end of the half trimmed the Leopards advantage to 34-21 at intermission. In the first half, Lafayette shot 62 percent from the field (16-26), while the Eagles were 10-29 for 35 percent.
American got off to a quick start in the second half with a Ryan three-pointer on its opening possession. But the Leopards fired back with six unanswered points to take a 16-point lead, 40-24, at the 17:38 mark in the second half. This was the largest advantage by either team in the contest.
The resilient Eagles fought back with nine consecutive points to cut the Lafayette lead to 40-33 before the Leopards once again extended its advantage to double-digits, 48-36, with 10:38 remaining in the game. American followed that up with another 9-0 run, capped by a Kirk jumper, to trim the Lafayette lead to 48-45 at the under-eight minute media timeout.
After the Leopards opened up a six point advantage, 51-45, a Brittany Bell bucket along with back-to-back baskets by Kirk deadlocked the contest, 51-51, with 3:04 to play. This marked the game's first tie since it was 12-12 in the first half.
The teams proceeded to exchange deuces, and then an Elizabeth Virgin basket gave the Leopards a 55-53 lead. But the hot-shooting Kirk responded with a jumper to tie the contest at 55 with 1:05 remaining. Both teams made one of two free throws inside the game's final minute to knot it at 56-56.
With 8.4 seconds remaining, Lafayette's LeKeisha Wright knocked home a runner off-the-glass to give the Leopards a 58-56 lead. Kirk's fade-away jumper at the buzzer missed for the Eagles, and Lafayette escaped with the two-point victory.