Sarah Kiely’s go-ahead bucket with 17 seconds left was just enough to push a balanced AU attack past Holy Cross Jan. 19, 67-62, to keep the Eagles undefeated in Patriot League play.
“We focus on being consistent in how we prepare and if we can do that, it gives us a good chance every time we show up,” AU Head Coach Matt Corkery said. “We’ve been in a hole every conference game and I feel like we haven’t executed as well as we need to in the first half of games. It feels good to have some resiliency and we can learn from today’s game.”
Holy Cross (8-10, 0-3 PL) entered the game with the league’s leading scorer in Alex Smith and an offense aiming to play up tempo. They did just that as the Crusaders opened the game on a 13-4 run.
Four subs combined to shoot a perfect 6-6 as AU closed the deficit to one, 37-36 late in the half, before Holy Cross’ Brisje Malone beat the buzzer to put them on top 39-36 at halftime.
All too familiar for AU.
“It was vital to change our game plan. We didn’t really start off with a lot of energy,” Kiely said. “We really needed our starters, our bench players to step up and give a lot of energy. That was the main focal point at halftime, just keep going on that run. I think we did that.”
Trailing by six early in the second half, Ti’Asia McGeorge was fouled on a 3-pointer and hit a foul shot to convert the four-point play bringing the Eagles within one. That play sparked a 13-2 run for AU as it took a 51-45 lead with 14:23 to play.
Smith eventually tied the game on one of her four 3-pointers, but Jen Dumiak scored the Eagles next six points to counter back-to-back treys by Smith to put Holy Cross up 63-62. On the next possession, Kiely’s missed hook shot was tipped in by Dumiak to give the Eagles the 65-62 advantage.
After a Malone turnover, Kiely was able to convert the game-winning layup to seal the 67-62 victory.
Along with Kiely and George’s double-figures, Dumiak led all AU scorers with 13 points and Alexis Dobbs had seven points, six rebounds and eight assists.
Despite Smith and Lepley scoring 18 and 16 respectively, AU’s defense held the Crusaders to 32 percent shooting in the second half while the AU bench outscored Holy Cross’ 29-7.
“It means a lot, we put a lot of pride into it when we go into practice,” junior Geleisa George said. “It’s not just the starting five that makes the team run, it’s everyone, and so everyone needs to contribute in a special way. That statistic is a proof of that.”
AU travels to Annapolis to face Navy, the conference’s preseason number one, Jan.23 at 7 p.m.