Eagles Ready to Face Bucknell in Patriot League Semifinal

Eagles Ready to Face Bucknell in Patriot League Semifinal

American (15-15, 11-7 PL) at Bucknell (25-5, 16-2 PL)
Friday, March 10
5 p.m. in Lewisburg, Pa. (Sojka Pavilion)
Series Record:
 American leads, 24-16
Last Meeting: February 1, 2017 at American - American 59, Bucknell 47

American Notes
Bucknell Notes 

WASHINGTON - The No. 4 American University women's basketball team is set to fight for a spot in the Patriot League Championship, as they take on No. 1 Bucknell in the semifinal round on Friday, March 10.  Tipoff in Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg, Pa., will be at 5 p.m.

This will be the 41st contest between AU and Bucknell since 1983, when the Eagles edged the Bison in a 5-point game at Lewisburg, 77-72.  American currently leads the series, 23-16, and holds a 12-8 record at Bucknell.

AU and Bucknell split their two games during the regular season, with Bucknell winning in an overtime thriller at Sojka Pavilion on Jan. 5, 73-67.  The two teams met once again on Feb. 1, and American ended the Bison's undefeated conference season with a 59-47 win in Bender Arena.

The Eagles are 0-2 against Bucknell in the postseason after losing in the 2008 Patriot League semifinal, 60-52, and the 2013 PL quarterfinal, 46-43.

American is 5-4 in the Patriot League Semifinal Round since the Eagles joined the league in 2001-02.  The only time the Eagles advanced through to the semifinal round as a No. 4 seed was in 2007 when they beat Navy in the quarterfinal, 68-55.  AU went on to defeat No. 8 Colgate, 68-45, to move on to the championship game, where they fell to No. 3 Holy Cross, 56-84.

This is the first time AU will meet a No. 1 seed during the semifinal.  American is 0-3 against the top-seed overall, with all three losses coming during the championship game.

The Eagles' only title run came during the 2014-15 season, when they beat No. 6 Lehigh in the final game, 66-50, to advance to the program's first NCAA Tournament.  AU fell in the first round against No. 3 Iowa, 75-67.

After holding Bucknell to its closest PL victory of the season to-date in January, pushing the game into overtime before falling 73-67, the Eagles came back to serve the Bison their first conference loss of the season on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 59-47.

Junior Michael Harris led the Eagles with a career-high 16 points off the bench, followed by 13 points from junior Emily Kinneston and 12 points from sophomore Cecily Carl.  Kinneston also led the team on the boards with six rebounds, while junior Maria Liddane contributed a team-high five assists.

On the defensive end, the Eagles all but shut down the Bison's scoring efforts, holding a team that averaged 67.0 ppg to only 47 points.  Claire DeBoer and Kaitlyn Slagus were the only two players to score around their averages with 17 points and 11 points, respectively.

Sune Swart, who held a 12.1 ppg average heading into the contest, was held to only eight points by the strong defensive effort of Carl, who also drew key fouls before Swart fouled out of the game late in the fourth period.  Megan McGurk and Catherine Romaine were the only other two players to contribute to the Bison's final tally with six points and five points, respectively.  

The Eagles held Bucknell to one of its lowest performances of the season from the floor, shooting only 39.1 percent (18-of-46) while also forcing 23 turnovers, the highest for the Bison since their 65-50 loss to North Carolina in November.

A strong fourth quarter pulled AU to a 57-51 quarterfinal victory over No. 5 Boston University on Monday, March 6.

Juniors Emily Kinneston and Maria Liddane highlighted the night's performances.  Kinneston led the squad with 19 points, while Liddane tied her career-high with seven rebounds, and hit a new season-best with 11 assists to lead the team in both categories.

Senior Lauren Crisler put up 13 points in her final game in Bender Arena, and sophomore Cecily Carl contributed another dozen.

The Eagles shot 39.6 percent from the field (19-for-48), including a 6-of-15 performance from beyond the arc.  Boston went 35.7 percent from the floor (20-of-56) and 3-for-13 from three-point range.

AU is led by Second Team All-Patriot League player, Kinneston, who averages 13.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 3.2 apg.  Crisler and sophomore Cecily Carl, recognized on the Third Team All-Patriot League, also average in the double figures with 10.3 ppg and 10.4 ppg, respectively.  Carl also leads the team on the boards with 5.7 rpg, followed closely by Crisler at 5.6 rpg.  Liddane continues to be the top distributor in the league, averaging five assists per game.

The Eagles rank second in the conference behind Bucknell for field goal percentage (.423), and are second behind Navy for both assists (15.17 per game) and assist/turnover ratio (1.02).  They are averaging 60.9 ppg and a +1.9 point margin, holding opponents to 59.0 points per game.

No. 1 Bucknell survived a close quarterfinal game against No. 8 Loyola Maryland on Monday, 75-72, to secure home court advantage during the semifinal round.

Sune Swart led the Bison with 20 points and six rebounds, followed by Claire DeBoer's 13 points and six boards.

Bucknell shot 59.2 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc, and 78.6 percent from the line to clinch the victory.

The Bison are led by Patriot League Player of the Year, senior Claire DeBoer, who currently ranks second in the PL with 15.9 ppg, and fifth with 7.2 rpg.

Bucknell sits atop the league rankings in nine categories, including field goal percentage (.439), field goal percentage defense (.360), and free throw percentage (.755).

The Bison are 15-0 at home this season, and own the third-longest active home winning streak in the country at 27-0.

No. 2 Navy and No. 3 Army will follow American and Bucknell in Sojka Pavilion for the second semifinal game, set to tipoff at 7:30 p.m.  The winners of the two semifinal contests will play in the Patriot League Championship Game, Sunday morning at 11 a.m., also at Bucknell's Sojka Pavilion, televised live on CBS Sports Network.

For the latest on AU Women's Basketball, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_WBasketball.