14-Seed American Faces Third-Seed Iowa in NCAA First Round

14-Seed American Faces Third-Seed Iowa in NCAA First Round



The American University women's basketball team makes its first NCAA appearance in program history after capturing the 2015 Patriot League Tournament title. The Eagles, seeded 14th in the Oklahoma City Region, will play third-seeded host Iowa in the first round.

The game, which is slated to begin at 1:30 p.m. (CT), is being held at Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena and will be televised by ESPN2.

After going into the intermission tied at 24, top-seeded American pulled away in the second half to defeat sixth-seed Lehigh, 66-50, in the championship game of the Patriot League Tournament.

The Eagles were led by tournament MVP Jen Dumiak, who finished with 24 points and six assists, to guide American to its first Patriot League title. Fellow seniors Shaquilla Curtis and Arron Zimmerman added 13 and 12 points, respectively.

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. 

American, which is on an 11-game winning streak, enters the NCAA Tournament with a 24-8 overall record. The Eagles, who have already set a program record for single-season victories, won the Patriot League Tournament title 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 16.9 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 11.0 and 10.0 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 7.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

Iowa, ranked 18th by the Associated Press and 14th in the latest USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, enters the NCAA Tournament as the third seed in the Oklahoma City Region. The Hawkeyes, who host the first two rounds of action, carry a 24-7 overall record into this weekend's competition and is coming off a 91-85 overtime loss to Ohio State in the Big 10 Tournament semifinals. Iowa finished second in the Big 10 regular-season standings with a 14-4 ledger and is a perfect 16-0 at home this season. 

Leading the way for the Hawkeyes is Ally Disterhoff, who averages 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while Melissa Dixon is right behind with 15.0 points per contest. Also averaging in double figures scoring for Iowa are Bethany Doolittle with 13.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest, while Samantha Logic pitches in 13.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game.

Iowa ranks third nationally in three-point field goal percentage (.390), sixth in assists per game (18.3) and eighth in both scoring offense (79.8) and assist/turnover ratio (1.34). Individually, Dixon leads the nation in three-point field goals made per game (3.74) and is fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.451), while Logic is third in assists per game.

While American has never made a trip to the NCAA tournament, the Eagles have six previous postseason appearances, all in the WNIT. AU's first postseason appearance came in 1998, when the Eagles fell to Saint Joseph's, 77-68.

American currently has an 0-6 record in postseason play. Listed below are the Eagles' previous postseason results:

1998          WNIT First Round - Saint Joseph's 77, American 68

2008          WNIT First Round - Villanova 53, American 52

2009          WNIT First Round - James Madison 61, American 59

2010          WNIT First Round - Old Dominion 63, American 55

2012          WNIT First Round - Villanova 58, American 39

2014          WNIT First Round - Seton Hall 63, American 60

Senior Jen Dumiak ranks among the top 15 nationally in three statistical categories, rating fourth in free throw percentage (.919). She also ranks 14th in assist/turnover ratio (2.49) and 15th in assists per game (6.2). Meanwhile, she ranks 31st nationally in field goal percentage with a mark of .518. 

As a team, the Eagles rank in the top 40 in several categories, including assist/turnover ratio (1.19), where they rate 19th. American is also ranked 22nd in field goal percentage (.442), 24th in turnovers per game (12.9), 35th in scoring defense (57.2) and 37th in assists per game (15.4).

With its win over Lehigh in the PL championship, American secured its 24th victory of the season, setting the program record for most wins in a season.

The Eagles reached their previous record of 23 wins on two occasions, compiling a 23-7 overall record in the 1997-98 season and a 23-8 mark in 2011-12.

With her six assists versus Lehigh in the Patriot League championship game, senior Jen Dumiak set the Eagles' single-season assist record with 197. AU Hall of Famer Jody Thornton held the previous record of 194 assists, set in 1986-87.

Meanwhile, Dumiak also ranks second in the American record book in single-season scoring with 540 points this year. She is 25 points shy of the record, set by Michelle Kirk in 2009-10. 

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 1,376 career points. She already ranks second in career assists at AU with 469.

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.

Senior Jen Dumiak is just five rebounds short of becoming the 17th player in program history to reach 500 career rebounds. If she reaches the mark, she will become the only player in school history to record 1,000 career points, 500 career rebounds and 400 career assists.

The winner of Friday's first round matchup between American and Iowa will advance to the second round of action in Iowa City, on Sunday, March 22, facing the winner of the game between six-seed Washington and 11-seed Miami.