The top-seeded American University women's basketball team seeks its first Patriot League Tournament title on Saturday, March 14, as it hosts sixth-seed Lehigh in the championship game. The contest, which is being nationally televised by CBS Sports Network, is slated to begin at 6 p.m. in Bender Arena.
Tickets for Saturday's championship are on sale now and can be purchased 24/7 at AUeagles.com/Tickets. Prices, set by the Patriot League, are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and youth under 13. Admission is free for all current AU students with valid AU ID.
Live Stats: aueagles.com
TV: CBS Sports Network (Jason Knapp - Play-by-Play; Leah Secondo - Analyst)
Series Records: American leads, 24-12
LAST TIME OUT...
Fighting off a rally by the Midshipmen, American picked up a 60-53 victory over fifth-seed Navy in its Patriot League semifinal on Monday evening.
While the Eagles started out the game on a 14-2 run, the Mids battled back to cut the margin to three points late in the opening half. After a basket by senior Jen Dumiak gave AU a 30-25 lead at the intermission, Navy's Sarita Condie hit back-to-back treys to open the second half, giving the Mids their first advantage of the contest. However, the Eagles eventually pushed their lead back to double digits to take the victory.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES...
American, which has won 10 straight contests, enters Saturday's game with a 23-8 overall record. The Eagles earned the top seed in the tournament after claiming the Patriot League regular-season championship with a 16-2 mark in league action.
Senior Jen Dumiak, the Patriot League Player of the Year, averages 16.6 points, 6.2 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game to lead the Eagles. Third-team All-Patriot League selections Michelle Holmes and Arron Zimmerman add 11.1 and 9.9 points per game, respectively, while Holmes also averages a team-high 6.6 rebounds per contest.
American also boasts the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year in senior Shaquilla Curtis. In addition to her status as the Eagles' top defender, Curtis averages 7.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
SCOUTING THE MOUNTAIN HAWKS...
Lehigh has compiled a 19-11 overall record on the season and finished sixth in the Patriot League standings with a 9-9 ledger in league play. As the sixth seed in this year's tournament, the Mountain Hawks have knocked off the second and third seeds, defeating No. 3 Holy Cross, 75-62, in the quarterfinals, and No. 2 Army, 76-57, in the semifinals.
Sophomore Lexi Martins, a second-team All-Patriot League selection, leads the Mountain Hawks in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 14.2 points and 11.0 rebounds per contest. She was joined on the PL second team by senior Katie O'Reilly, who averages 11.4 points per game, while junior Kerry Kinek, a third-team all-league pick, averages 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest.
Also earning recognition in the Patriot League's post-season awards was freshman Quinci Mann, an all-rookie selection who averages 8.2 points per game.
THIS SEASON VS. LEHIGH...
American swept its regular-season games against Lehigh this season, coming back for a 75-73 overtime victory in Bethlehem on Jan. 14, while earning a 74-64 win in Washington on Feb. 11.
In the first match-up between the two teams this season, American overcame an eight-point deficit late in the second half to take the win. Senior Shaquilla Curtis capped off the Eagles comeback, scoring five points in the final 65 seconds of regulation—including a three-pointer with less than a second on the clock—to send the game into overtime. Meanwhile, senior Jen Dumiak scored five of AU's eight points in the extra period to secure the win for the Eagles.
Dumiak finished with 22 points and nine assists to lead the Eagles, while Curtis scored a career-high 16 points. In addition, junior Michelle Holmes registered 15 points, seven rebounds and a career-best five assists. Katie O'Reilly led Lehigh with 19 points, while Kerry Kinek added 18 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in the extra period.
The Eagles also overcame a double-digit first-half deficit in its home win over Lehigh, as Curtis drained a three-pointer late in the opening period to tie the score at 31-31 heading into the locker room. After the break, American quickly took the lead and pushed its advantage to double-digits, never letting the Mountain Hawks get closer than 10 points.
Dumiak finished with 21 points and nine assists to pace the Eagles, while senior Arron Zimmerman pitched in a season-high 19 points. For Lehigh, O'Reilly scored 16 points to lead four Mountain Hawks in double figures.
HOW WE RATE...
In the latest Patriot League statistical rankings, American leads the league in field goal percentage (.442), assists per game (15.5) and assist/turnover ratio (1.2), while ranking second in scoring offense (63.3), scoring margin (+5.8), free throw percentage (.727) and three-point field goal percentage (.325).
Meanwhile, senior Jen Dumiak leads the way individually, ranking first in the Patriot League in assists per game (6.2), free throw percentage (.917) and assist/turnover ratio (2.5), while junior Michelle Holmes leads the league in field goal percentage (.517).
HOW THEY RATE...
Lehigh currently leads the Patriot League in scoring offense (69.4), rebounding offense (41.5) and offensive rebounding percentage (.356), while ranking second in field goal percentage (.427), rebounding margin (+6.2), offensive rebounds (13.2) and defensive rebounds (28.3).
Individually, Lexi Martins leads the league in total rebounds per game (11.0) and defensive rebounds per game (7.9), while ranking second in offensive rebounds per game (3.1).
AMERICAN IN THE PATRIOT LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP...
This weekend marks American's fifth appearance in the Patriot League championship game and its first since 2011. It also marks the first time that the Eagles have hosted the PL title contest.
American has lost in all four of its previous PL championship appearances, including a 58-42 loss at Lehigh in 2010. Listed below are the Eagles' previous PL championship results.
2004 No. 1 Colgate 71, No. 2 American 60
2007 No. 3 Holy Cross 56, No. 4 American 48
2010 No. 1 Lehigh 58, No. 2 American 42
2011 No. 1 Navy 47, No. 3 American 40
THE WINNINGEST SEASON...
With its win over Navy in Monday's PL semifinal, American secured its 23rd victory of the season, matching the program record for most wins in a season.
The Eagles have reached 23 wins on two previous occasions, compiling a 23-7 overall record in the 1997-98 season and a 23-8 mark in 2011-12.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE...
Throughout the year, the Eagles have shot better in Bender Arena, averaging 45.7 percent from the field at home, compared to 42.7 percent on the road.
American has shot over 50 percent from the field in eight games this season, with seven of those coming at home.
JEN'S IN THE TOP FIVE...
With her performance in the Eagles' PL quarterfinal game versus Lafayette, senior Jen Dumiak moved into the top five in career scoring at American, currently ranking fifth with 1,352 career points. She already ranks second in career assists at AU with 463.
Dumiak is the only player in program history to rank in the top five in both points and assists and one of four to rank in the top 10 in both categories.
With her 23 points at Boston University on Feb. 18, senior Jen Dumiak moved into AU's top 10 for most points in a single season and currently ranks fourth with 516 points this year.
Dumiak also ranks third on the Eagles' single-season assist list with 191. American Hall of Famer Jody Thornton holds the top two spots on the list, including the record of 194 assists, set in 1986-87.
Senior Jen Dumiak ranks among the top 15 nationally in three statistical categories, rating fourth in free throw percentage (.917). She also ranks 12th in assist/turnover ratio (2.55) and 15th in assists per game (6.2). Meanwhile, she ranks 35th nationally in field goal percentage with a mark of .514.
As a team, the Eagles rank in the top 40 in several categories, including assist/turnover ratio (1.18), where they rate 19th. American is also ranked 21st in field goal percentage (.442), 25th in turnovers per game (13.2), 36th in assists per game (15.5) and 40th in scoring defense (57.5).
The winner of Saturday's championship game will earn the Patriot League's automatic bid to the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. The entire field and brackets for the national tournament will be released on Monday, March 16, at 7 p.m.