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Women’s basketball advances to Patriot League Semifinals with victory over Boston

Kinneston, Crisler and Carl lead Eagles past the fifth seeded Terriers

Women’s basketball advances to Patriot League Semifinals with victory over Boston

The AU women’s basketball team found themselves in another close game as the clock wound down in the fourth quarter on Monday during the Quarterfinal matchup against Boston University in Bender Arena. The Eagles (15-15) once again were able to make the crucial plays to advance in the Patriot League tournament with their 57-51 victory over the Terriers.

With its victory over the fifth seeded Terriers (13-17), AU advances to the Patriot League Semifinals, hosted by top seed Bucknell University. The Eagles will face the Bison March 10 at 5 p.m. with the winner advancing to the league championship game on Sunday.

After a back-and-forth fourth quarter where AU and BU traded the lead, sophomore forward Cecily Carl took a pass from junior guard Maria Liddane and drained a long three-point field goal to break a 49-49 tie and give AU the lead for good with two minutes remaining. The Eagles’ defense prevented the Terriers from getting clean looks at the basket and used free throws from junior guard Emily Kinneston and senior forward Lauren Crisler to put the game out of reach.

“I think this group has been through so many close games this year that it’s really nice to see we can pull one out when it came to the fourth quarter and our execution,” head coach Megan Gebbia said.

The Eagles started the game strong and were able to figure out BU’s zone defense. The Eagles used quick ball movement around the perimeter to stretch the Terriers defense and find holes in BU’s defense. Kinneston converted two three-pointers in the game’s first two minutes while Crisler and Carl connected with jump shots from the baseline. AU recorded assists on its first 10 made field goals.

AU initially was able to limit BU’s effectiveness in the paint, utilizing double-teams to prevent the Terriers from getting the ball to First-Team All-Patriot League selection Sophie Beaudry.

“It was important for us to execute our defense today because we knew that the last two times we played them, they scored more points than they typically do and we were capable of doing better,” Gebbia said. “So we focused on tendencies and trying to keep #1 [ Beaudry] out of the paint as much as possible.”

However, the Eagles interior defense suffered when Carl picked up her second foul with 9:00 minutes left in the second quarter. With Carl on the bench, BU pounded the ball down low to Beaudry and forward Kara Sheftic. The Terriers outrebounded the Eagles 19-11 in the first half and scored 16 of their 25 first half points in the paint.

Kinneston’s offensive aggression in the first half enabled the Eagles to take a four-point lead into halftime. Kinneston continually drove into the heart of BU’s zone and drew fouls, converting on five-of-six free throw attempts in the first half.

The Terriers continued to force the ball into the post in the second half and used strong shooting and offensive rebounds to start the third quarter on a 9-0 run to take a five point lead. The Eagles responded with a scoring run of their own, ignited when Kinneston earned a three-point play by finishing an off-balance layup through contact. The Eagles recaptured the lead when Crisler made a layup midway through the third quarter.

Kinneston finished the game with 19 points and five assists for the Eagles, while Crisler added 13 points. Carl also finished the game in double figures, recording 12 points in her third game back from an ankle sprain.

“This group does not want to stop playing and that’s huge when you’re here in March and you’re trying to advance,” Gebbia said.

vsalandro@theeagleonline.com


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