March 2, 2006
WORCESTER, Mass. - Despite holding a five-point halftime lead, seventh seeded American University could not pull off an upset of second-seeded Holy Cross, losing 57-49 on Thursday at The Hart Center in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament.
With the game tied at 39-39 by just with 10:02 to go in regulation, American's offense sputtered as the Eagles managed just 10 points in the final 10 minutes losing to the defending Patriot League Champions in the first round of the PL Tournament.
Each team struggled to get a basket to fall to start the second half, with the halftime score of 29-24 staying that way until Holy Cross' Jennifer Conte scored two layups in 15 seconds to slice the AU lead to one. The Crusaders took their first lead since 18:50 mark of the first half on a Brittany Keil jumper, completing a 11-0 run while holding the Eagles scoreless for the first 4:51 of the second frame. Freshman Sahar Nusseibeh (Uniontown, Ohio/North Canton Hoover) hit a 13 footer to put AU back up by one, breaking the AU scoring drought.
The two teams traded points and the lead, over the next few possessions until a 5-0 Holy Cross run, capped off by a Lauren Aloisi three pointer, gave the Crusaders a 39-35 lead. American rookie Nicole Ryan (Safety Harbor, Fla./Clearwater) hit tow consecutive jumpshots to tie the game once again, 39-39 with 10:02 left in regulation. Conte put Holy Cross back up, 42-39 with a three pointer at the 7:47 mark of the second half.
American closed to within three but Keil put the defending Patriot League champions up by six after converting a three-point play. Holy Cross kept that lead over the next four minutes, earning a 53-45 lead with 1:46 showing on the game clock. The lead proved too much for American to overcome as Holy Cross was perfect from the line in the final two minutes helping the home team to a 57-49 win.
A three-pointer by freshman Talicia Jackson (Minneapolis, Minn./De La Salle) gave the underdog Eagles a 5-4 lead at the 18:28 mark of the first frame. American stepped up their defense and rebounding, expanding their lead to 17-12 at the halfway point of the first period. Five straight points from American's Ryan put the Eagles up by a 22-14 margin with 8:32 remaining in the half.
Holy Cross closed to within four after holding AU to almost four minutes without a point until Jackson reloaded off an offensive board and hit her second three pointer of the half. American opened up their largest lead on their next possession when Jackson hit yet another trey to put her team up 29-19. Keil answered, scoring five straight to end the half. Jackson and Keil led all scorers with nine points as American went into the lockeroom with a 29-24 lead.
Jackson led the Eagles with 14 points, with Ryan scoring 12 on the night. Freshman Tish Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Woodrow Wilson) tallied nine rebounds, while Nusseibeh finished with eight.
American outrebounded the Crusaders 33-30, but Holy Cross outshot the Eagles, shooting 41 percent compared to AU's 38 percent.
AU finishes the season with a 7-21 record after going 4-10 in the conference play during the regular season. Holy Cross will look to continue its quest to defend its' crown on their home court Saturday, when they host third-seeded Bucknell at 1 p.m.