AU Women’s Basketball records third consecutive loss
Taylor Swift lyrics echoed through Bender Arena as the AU Women’s Basketball team ran through their traditional warm-up routine, but Sunday’s match against Princeton University was anything but typical.
Students swarmed Bender Arena amid rumors of an appearance from the President of the United States and the First Lady, and the large crowd nearly broke the women’s basketball attendance record. Despite the support, however, the Eagles failed to top the Tigers, and they recorded their third loss of the season, 63-56
“It’s frustrating for this group because they’re talented enough to play with these better teams, these bigger programs, and not being able to finish out, we need to figure out what it is so we can do a better job,” second year head coach Megan Gebbia said.
Princeton (4-0, 0-0) shot out to an early lead in the first half after winning the opening tip, and they never surrendered their lead. AU senior forward Arron Zimmerman tied the game at 11-11 with a three point shot that sank through the hoop right as the crowd stood for the arrival of Michelle Obama, a Princeton alumna.
The student section turned their focus away from the game to sneak camera photos of the First Lady whose niece, freshman forward Leslie Robinson, played 11 minutes for the Tigers.
AU (0-3, 0-0) faced a 36-26 deficit heading into the half, but they emerged after the break with a stronger control over the pace of play.
“It was just confidence and them playing in front of probably the largest crowd, I think in AU women’s basketball history,” Gebbia said. “It’s just settling down and being able to focus when they can’t hear because they are used to being able to hear everything. We’re happy that the fans came out, but at the same time, the second half, I just think we settled in a little bit more, a little bit more patient on offense.”
Despite their increased composure and fluidity, the Eagles struggled to match the intensity of Princeton’s offense. AU senior guard Jen Dumiak, who played the entire 40-minute game and scored13 points, remained frustrated with herself and her team’s performance.
“It’s disappointing,” she said. “I don’t think we played particularly well in either half. We let them do what the scouting report said that they would do, and that’s on us as players not our coaches. I think what’s most disappointing is that the game was in our hands and we weren’t they mentally.”
The Eagles played conservative defense at the start of the game, but they increased the pressure throughout the game and more than doubled their foul total in the second half. Princeton, however, kept their lead alive with strong play from senior guard Blake Dietrick, who led both teams in scoring with 19 points.
The Eagles travel to Las Vegas over the holiday break to compete in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout where they will face non-conference opponents Gonzaga University and the University of Oregon. AU will not play a Patriot League opponent until they take on Bucknell University on Dec. 31.
“I scheduled this schedule because I wanted them to learn how to compete and play with good teams, and they’re there, but it’s just the last few minutes where we just can’t put it together,” Gebbia said. “I think in the long run, it’s going to help us once we get to the Patriot League. I just hope that they don’t lose their energy and enthusiasm for the game in the meantime.”