March 3, 2005
WORCESTER, Mass. - The American University women's basketball team on Thursday lost to Navy, 62-40, in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament for the squads first loss in the first round of the PL tourney since the Eagles' first season in the league.
The loss was the culmination of a bad day for the Eagles. First, AU lost starting forward Jenyce Woodruff (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny) when she was hospitalized earlier in the day for an illness. Then a depleted AU squad, playing with just 10 healthy players, went out against Navy and set the PL Tournament record for the fewest points in a quarterfinal game and for the lowest field goal percentage (25.4 percent) in the history of the tournament.
Despite all that, American looked promising early. The Eagles' offense started slow, but AU's defense was smothering in the early going, forcing 13 turnovers by Navy in the opening period. AU built up an eight-point lead at the 8:52 mark of the opening period when Abby Lipskis (Norfolk, Va./Norfolk Collegiate) grabbed one of her six offensive rebounds and made the putback.
However, everything went downhill from there. Navy quickly answered Lipskis' bucket with a layup of their own, which launched an 8-0 run for the Midshipmen, tying the game at 17 a piece. After Chanel Hunt (Raleigh, N.C./Ravenscroft) hit a jumper to retake the lead at the 4:42 mark of the first period, the Mids scored the last five points of the period to go into the lockerroom up 22-19.
The second half started promising, with a jumper by Joanna Barnes (Washington, D.C./Dunbar) to pull AU within one, but things quickly went sour. Navy put together a 13-2 run over the next five minutes to grab a 35-23 lead, until Kim Salem (Oakville, Ontario/St. Thomas Aquinas) hit a layup and Hunt hit one-of-two free throws to whittle the lead down to single digits (35-26). Navy regained the momentum again, and launched a 13-0 run to take an insurmountable 48-26 lead with 7:15 left. The Eagles went scoreless for more than five minutes during the run.
The quarterfinal loss was the first for AU since the Eagles' first season in the league, when they lost to Colgate in the first round, 79-68, on March 1, 2002. The loss halts a streak in which the Eagles advanced another round in each year they've been in the PL. After AU's first round loss in 2002, they made it to the second round in 2003 and the championship game last season.
Hunt led the Eagles with 17 points and seven rebounds. She finishes her illustrious AU career with 1,298 career points, fifth most in AU history, and 724 rebounds, good for third-place all-time at AU. No other AU player tallied double-digits.
Navy was led by Abi Campbell and Lauren Skrel, who each had 14 points. Skrel, who went 10-for-10 from the line, all in the last five minutes, tallied a double-double with 11 assists. Nikki Curtis added 13 for the Midshipmen, who advance to face the winner of tonight's Holy Cross/Lafayette matchup on Saturday at 1 p.m.
American finishes its season 12-16, 7-7 in the Patriot League. The .429 win percentage by head coach Melissa McFerrin ties her with Linda Ziemke for the best winning percentage by a first-year AU coach. Ziemke went 6-8 in the 1978-79 season.