Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, April 23, 2018

Women’s basketball drops to Loyola on Senior Night

The Eagles fall 55-50 and record their sixth consecutive loss

Women’s basketball drops to Loyola on Senior Night

The clocked ticked down, but Maria Liddane kept running. Leading the Eagles down the court on nearly every possession, the sophomore point guard tried desperately to find her teammates and put the ball in the hoop, but AU, a team with only one senior in the starting lineup, came up five points short. Dropping to the Loyola Greyhounds 55-50, the Eagles notched their sixth consecutive loss and ended their final regular season home game with frustration.

The Eagles started slow, failing to notch a point for nearly the first five minutes, but the Greyhounds faced a similar struggle. Neither team managed to hit more than 28 percent of field goals in the first half, and after ten minutes of play, Loyola led just 11-8.

“I think we started out the game disjointed. I thought our offense was disjointed. People were trying to go one-on-one too much, and that’s not really what we do well,” AU head coach Megan Gebbia said.

The second quarter followed much like the first, but AU emerged with a re-energized spirit after the half. Junior forward Lauren Crisler tied the game at 19-19 after hitting a jumper off an assist from Liddane, and freshman forward Cecily Carl put AU ahead when she added a field goal of her own. Loyola’s duo of senior guard Colleen Marshall and sophomore guard Bri Betz-White, however helped the Greyhounds pull ahead again 40-34 at the end of the third quarter and continue their lead through the final buzzer. Marshall ultimately recorded a game-high 16 points, just one point ahead of Betz-White, who added 15.

With the loss, the Eagles enter their final regular season game with one of the worst records in program history since 2000. After finishing last year at the top of the Patriot League and picked to finish fifth this year, Gebbia said the team just hopes to win its final game against Navy on Wednesday and prepare for the conference tournament.

“We have a chance, if we win this game coming up, that we could finish in seventh, and that’s our goal,” Gebbia said. “Our goal as a team right now is to win this next one, finish seventh, and then you never know what can happen in the tournament.”

Gebbia has spent the year learning her new players and rebuilding her team after graduating senior standouts Jen Dumiak, Shaquilla Curtis and Arron Zimmerman and losing current senior Michelle Holmes to an injury in December, but she said she looks forward to watching to group grow as a unit.

“We’re hoing that as we continue with the same starting line-up for another game and another game and another game, they eventually feel and understand how to help each other out to score.”

With such a young team, Gebbia has played several of her freshman players for significant minutes, and Carl quickly earned a spot in the starting lineup, taking on more minutes after Holmes’ injury. Earlier this season, Carl told The Eagle that she hoped to make the Patriot League “All Rookie” team as well as “make a difference on the court,” and the freshman led the team against Loyola with 13 points. She also recorded a team-high of 13 points against Navy, totaling over 20 minutes in both games.  

“It’s very hard to try to fill Michelle’s shoes,” Carl said on playing significant minutes as a freshman. “Everyone has been very helpful for me, all my teammates and coaches have been very helpful for me, and I don’t pass myself the ball and all that stuff so I don’t’ control how many points I score, so everyone really helps out with that.”

While Carl adjusts to her new role as a starter for the Eagles, two AU players and a team manager celebrated their final home game, as the AU Athletic Department honored seniors Holmes and Ari Booth as well as the team’s senior student manager Darah Nusseibeh. Booth started the game and put up four points in her 26 minutes of play, but she graduates having nearly completed one of the most successful years of her college career after scoring a career-high 22 points against Boston earlier this month.

One more game remains in the 2016 regular season for the Eagles, and Gebbia expressed her pride in her team’s courage and resilience for continuing to fight despite the frequent losses.

“This group does not stop working hard every day in practice, and I think that’s probably the thing I’m most proud of that they just won’t give up which, that’s all you can ask when you’re having a season like we’re having,” Gebbia said.

sscovel@theeagleonline.com


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