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Friday, June 21, 2024
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Hoops tied for top spot in PL

There hasn't been a better night for Shann Hart's team in her four years running AU's program. The Eagles played flawless basketball for much of the game, defeating the Holy Cross Crusaders 81-65 at Bender Arena Friday night.

AU went down 4-0 and then reeled off a 14-0 run to take a 10-point lead with 16 minutes left in the first half. Senior Kaitlyn Schuyler hit two three-pointers during the run.

"I'm real proud of how we played tonight," Hart said. "We executed in the transition and we got balanced scoring."

That balanced scoring included four Eagles scoring in double figures, led by junior guard Joanna Barnes, who scored 19 points on 10-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. Senior guard Chanel Spriggs, junior forward Chanel Hunt and junior center Kim Salem also hit double digits.

"We knew our defense could stop them, and we just focused on our offense tonight," Spriggs said, who scored 16 points and dished out four assists while grabbing three steals.

After grabbing the 14-4 lead, the Eagles built the lead up to 13 points. But Holy Cross clawed back to within eight. Hart called a timeout with the score 28-21. Her Eagles responded with a 12-0 run over the next six minutes and a 17-3 run to end the half and entered the locker room with a 46-24 lead.

The final moments of the first half were indicative of how it went Friday night for the Eagles. With six seconds left, Barnes grabbed a defensive rebound and drove the length of the floor. When she crossed half court, she banked in a running three-pointer as time expired.

"We were playing like the game was over and I just wanted us to stay focused for the entire game," Hart said.

The Eagles forced 13 turnovers in the first half, while only giving up nine field goals. They also shot 52 percent for the half, and in a reversal of recent fortune, the Eagles shot a remarkable 92.6 percent (25 for 27) from the free-throw line.

Holy Cross tried to climb back into the game in the second half, but never got closer than 12 points. A three-point play by Holy Cross superstar Maggie Fontana cut AU's lead to 60-48 with 7:12 remaining, but a Damarah Rhymer layup and two Hunt free throws put the Eagles back in control for good.

Coming into the game, Hart changed her two point guard-system of Schuyler and Barnes and moved Schuyler over to shooting guard. Barnes was the primary ball handler for the game.

"Joanna's ability to penetrate and dish out is important to us," Hart said. "Plus, she's our best free throw shooter, so we need to have the ball in her hands."

The Eagles weren't able to carry their momentum over to Sunday's game, however, as they dropped a crucial game to the Colgate Raiders, 79-61.

Malissa Burke and Emily Braseth led Colgate with 19 points each, and Milaina Lagzdins chipped in with 14 points and 19 rebounds as she dominated the paint.

Hunt led the Eagles with 19 points and seven rebounds. Spriggs scored 10 points and added to her AU steals record with four steals. Senior guard Angel McNatt scored nine points in her final game at Bender Arena.

Schuyler, also playing her final home game, scored seven points and dished out five assists.

The Eagles shot 41 percent for the game, while Colgate hit 50 percent of its shots, including 8-of-12 three-pointers, led by Burke's five threes.

After playing a balanced first 15 minutes, the Eagles took a 21-20 lead on a Tara Williams free throw. However, the Raiders then ran off a 13-0 run over the next 4:30 to open up a commanding 33-21 lead. A Barnes layup brought the Eagles to within 11, at 35-24 at the break.

Colgate started the second half on an 8-2 run to extend the lead to 43-26. A Hunt layup provided the only points the Eagles could muster in that stretch. After a timeout, Colgate went on a 9-0 run sparked by Braseth's five points and opened up a 52-28 lead with 14 minutes remaining.

AU tried to come back, but couldn't close the deficit. A Hunt putback brought the Eagles to within 14 points with 3:36 left, but Colgate slammed the door down the stretch. A Burke three-pointer as time ran out pushed the lead to 79-61 and AU ran out the clock.

As big as the win against Holy Cross was for Hart, the loss against Colgate was equally as demoralizing.

The Eagles entered Sunday in control of their own destiny. Had they won out, they would have entered the PL Tournament as the No. 1 seed. However, as things stand now, they are in a four-way tie for first place with Holy Cross, Colgate and Lehigh.

With upcoming games at Army and Lafayette to end the year, the Eagles still have a chance. And, no matter what happens, they have finally beaten Holy Cross, and that's good enough for at least one senior.

"I'd never beaten Holy Cross until tonight, and it feels good to finally do it," Spriggs said. "Maybe they won't take us for granted anymore"

As the semester comes to an end and one of the founding members leaves American University, Section 202 has decided to take a trip down memory lane. For our fans, old and new, who are wondering how Section 202 came to be, this episode is a must. Listen along as hosts Connor Sturniolo and Liah Argiropoulos reminisce about the beginning of Section 202 and how it got to where it is now.

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