WASHINGTON – The top-seeded American University women's basketball team made history once again, defeating No. 3-seed Navy, 58-49, in Bender Arena on Sunday to win the program's second Patriot League title and a berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The Eagles, who now stretch their program record to 26-6 overall this season, will learn Monday their next opponent and first-round site when the NCAA broadcasts its selection show at 7 p.m. The victory also closes out the AU's first undefeated season at home since the 1970s at 16-0.
The Midshipmen close their season at 25-7 after the loss.
Junior Cecily Carl stepped up in a big way for the Eagles, scoring 20 points to lead the team while bringing down eight rebounds. Senior Emily Kinneston, who entered the second half with only two points, put up a dominant 10 points during the final 10 minutes to close with 14 for the day. Senior Michael Harris matched Kinneston's team-best nine rebounds. The Eagles hit 18 of 21 free throws, including 13 of 14 in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.
Taylor Dunham scored 14 points to lead Navy, which got eight points and eight steals from Hannah Fenske. Kaila Clark led the Mids with 11 rebounds.
Carl earned Tournament MVP honors from the league, while Kinneston joined her on the All-Tournament Team.
The Eagles fell to an early deficit, trailing Navy 14-8 in the first quarter after shooting only 3 of 13. A 9-0 run over nearly four minutes in the second quarter, including back-to-back triples from Carl and junior Kaitlyn Lewis, gave AU its first lead since the first minute of play at 17-16 with five minutes remaining in the half. The Mids rebuilt a brief four-point lead before a trey from Carl in the final minute put the Eagles behind by one at 24-23 heading into the locker room.
AU didn't waste time taking control of the second half, as the Eagles went on an 11-point run over a six-minute period. The rally pushed American to a 37-28 lead with 2:47 left in the third quarter before a late three points by the Mids cut it down to a 37-31 lead by the end of the period.
A quick basket from Carl built that lead to eight in the fourth quarter before Navy rallied back with a jumper from Fenske to cut the lead to 47-46 with 1:28 left. But the Eagles hit 11 of 12 down the stretch to preserve the victory and win its second Patriot League title in program history and first since 2015.
The Eagles now await news of their first-round NCAA opponent. The NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship selection show will be broadcast Monday, March 12, at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
All alumni, family, and friends are invited to attend AU's NCAA Selection Show party, beginning Monday at 6:30 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 for the NCAA Tournament should go to AUEagles.com/Tickets now to submit their ticket request.
For the latest on American University Women's Basketball, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_WBasketball.