The AU Women’s Basketball team had a lot to be thankful for this week, as it won all three games over Thanksgiving break to run its record to an impressive 4-1 in nonconference play.
The Eagles defended their home court, beating Mount St. Mary’s, 67-52, on Nov. 24 and winning a 74-63 overtime thriller over Loyola College of Maryland last Friday before Sunday’s 48-46 victory in Asheville, N.C., against the University of North Carolina- Asheville.
Senior guard Joanna Barnes led the Eagles on Nov. 24 with 22 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 8 of 16 from the field. Seniors Kim Salem and Chanel Hunt chipped in with 10 and 12 points, respectively, while point guard Tala Hadavi scored 14 points while hitting 4 of 8 attempts from three-point range.
After trailing 34-30 at the half against MSMU, head coach Melissa McFerrin motivated her squad to come out and pound the Mount in the second half, outscoring them, 37-18, in the second half, including a 14-1 run to start the second half, capped off by Hadavi’s three with just under 13 minutes left.
The Eagles kept up their hot shooting against Loyola, staving off a post-Thanksgiving meltdown behind a balanced attack, again led by Barnes (16 points), Hadavi (14) and Hunt (10). Salem, senior Jenyce Woodruff and freshman Natalie Walker chipped in with nine points apiece.
The Eagles again started slow and entered the locker room trailing 36-32. The teams went back and forth all throughout the second half. A Hadavi three-pointer with a minute left gave the Eagles a two-point lead, but Loyola tied it with a Krystle Harrington jumper with 33 seconds left. Barnes’ jumper missed with five seconds left.
In overtime, the Eagles scored the last 11 points after Woodruff broke a 63-63 tie with a pair of free throws with 2:46 left. Back-to-back jumpers by Hunt and Woodruff put the game out of reach, and the Eagles hit their free throws down the stretch.
Sunday’s victory was a coming-out party for Hunt, who was playing in her native state. She scored a season-high 15 points to lead the Eagles over UNC-Asheville in a low scoring, 48-46 affair. AU led by 10 with four minutes left, but a furious Bulldog rally almost resulted in an upset. Hadavi had another great game, scoring 13 points and dishing out five assists for AU.
The Eagles now turn their attention to the Southern Mississippi Tournament on Friday. They open up against Austin Peay. A victory would land them in the championship game Saturday against the winner of Southern Mississippi and Columbia.