WASHINGTON – Tournament MVP Jen Dumiak finished with 24 points and six assists to lead the American University women's basketball team to its first Patriot League title, as the Eagles defeated Lehigh, 66-50, Saturday evening in Bender Arena.
With the win, American, seeded first in the tournament, improved to 24-8 on the season and will advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Eagles also set a program record for most wins in a single season.
Meanwhile, the sixth-seeded Mountain Hawks fell to 19-12 overall on the season.
Dumiak, who set AU's new standard for single-season assists with 197, was joined in double figures scoring by classmates Shaquilla Curtis and Arron Zimmerman, who finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Eagles got out to a strong start, leading 11-4 eight minutes into the game and pushing their advantage to double digits midway through the opening half. However, the Mountain Hawks battled back, going on a 10-0 run to get within one point.
Lehigh took its first lead of the game with three minutes remaining in the period as a three-pointer by Lexi Martins put the Mountain Hawks ahead, 24-22. However, the teams went into the locker room tied at 24-24 following a basket from Dumiak with 30 seconds on the clock.
The Eagles regained the lead with a basket by Curtis on the first possession of the second half and never trailed again. The only tie of the half came at 30-30, but the Eagles responded with an 8-0 run and cruised the rest of the way.
After shooting just 34.4 percent in the opening half, the Eagles shot 57.7 percent from the field in the second half. American also owned a 20-15 advantage on the boards after the break despite being outrebounded 25-10 in the first 20 minutes.
Sarah Williams was the leading scorer for Lehigh with 15 points, while Kerry Kinek added 12 points and Lexi Martins finished with eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
"The biggest thing for us coming into this game was our defense and our rebounding," said American head coach Megan Gebbia. "I think the fact that we held Lehigh to 50 points today made a big difference because they lead the league in scoring. Our second-half effort offensively allowed us to pull away, so I'm really proud of this group and how they were ready to go in the second half."
Joining Dumiak on the all-tournament team were Curtis and junior Michelle Holmes for the Eagles, along with Lehigh's Williams and Martins and Army's Kelsey Minato.
The Eagles now await news of their first-round NCAA match-up. The NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship selection show will be broadcast Monday, March 16, at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
All alumni, family and friends are invited to attend AU's NCAA Selection Show party, beginning Monday at 6:15 p.m. in the Mary Graydon Center Tavern, as the Eagles find out where they will go and who they will face in the NCAA Tournament. Parking after 5 p.m. in the Sports Center Garage, as well as admission to the selection show, is free.
All fans interested in purchasing tickets should go to AUeagles.com/Tickets now to submit their NCAA Tournament ticket request.