WASHINGTON - The American University women's basketball team had a strong showing in its season opener on Friday, powering to a 72-67 win over Tulsa behind the explosive effort of senior Emily Kinneston.
This is the second consecutive season that the Eagles will open with a 1-0 record after they overcame Youngstown State, 77-64, last season. Tulsa now falls to 0-1 for the season. Friday's game also marked the series debut between AU and the Golden Hurricane. The Eagles now hold a 17-34 record against American Conference teams.
"We talked about how much our experience would matter in this game, and I think we showed it down the stretch," head coach Megan Gebbia said. "We never lost composure when they went up by nine in the first half, and we fought back to tie it by halftime.
"Emily (Kinneston) and Mike (Harris) played outstanding. They produced at both ends today and hit big free throws late in the fourth quarter. We never doubted ourselves, and it was nice to get a win for Kate Bond in her home state."
Kinneston paced the Eagles with 25 points, just missing her career-high by one point. Fellow-senior Michael Harris tied her career-high with 16 points for the night while junior Cecily Carl fell one rebound short of a career record with a game-high 11 boards and three blocks.
The Eagles shot 36.7 percent from the field, including 38.1 percent from behind the arc, and shot an impressive 80 percent from the free throw line.
Tulsa was led by a 22-point effort from Shug Dickson. Alexis Gaulden contributed another 19 points and Erika Wakefield had 15 points while Krystan Vornes came off the bench to pull down a team-high nine rebounds.
The Golden Hurricane shot 38.7 percent from the field, 41.2 percent from long-range, and 60 percent from the free throw line. They edged AU in rebounds 44-40 and second-chance points, 12-9.
The two teams matched up evenly out of the gate with six ties during the first half before Tulsa began to pull away midway through the second quarter. The Golden Hurricane hit an 11-0 run to gain a nine-point edge over the Eagles before junior Elina Koskimies broke the run with a three-pointer. Kinneston and freshman Maddie Royle added another pair of treys to tie the game back up at 33-33 heading into the half.
The Eagles pulled away steadily throughout the third quarter, gapping Tulsa by seven points after shooting 5-of-15 from the floor and 7-of-10 from the charity stripe. The Golden Hurricane landed back within two early in the fourth before a pair of baskets from Harris gave the Eagles their largest lead of the game at 62-54 with six minutes left.
Tulsa continued to fight back throughout the final minutes of the game, nearly tying the game up after a 7-0 run put them within one with 2:28 left on the clock. Free throws proved to be the key for AU, as they went 10-2 from the line and 0-5 from the floor in the final six minutes.
The Eagles will make their home debut on Monday, Nov. 13, with a 7 p.m. tipoff against La Salle. Tickets for this and all AU Basketball home games can be purchased on AUEagles.com by clicking here. For the latest on AU Women's Basketball, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_WBasketball.