Lady Eagles back in business
Women's Hoops joins three-way tie for first place with Colgate, Holy Cross
The AU Women's Basketball team took a huge step in the quest to win the Patriot League Saturday with a 55-48 win over the Lehigh Mountain Hawks at Stabler Arena in Easton, Pa.
The win moved AU to 7-3 in the league and to a first-place tie with Colgate and Holy Cross.
Junior forward Chanel Hunt scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as she dominated the inside. The game was one of Hunt's best efforts of the year.
The game was low-scoring from the start, as both teams combined for only six points in the first four minutes. The Eagles played stifling defense as they held the Mountain Hawks to five points over 12 minutes.
Lehigh then ended the first half on a 19-2 run and took a 24-20 lead into the locker room. The Eagles came out in the second half, resisted the Lehigh charge and stayed in the game. A Hunt jumper at the 14:24 mark gave the Eagles their first lead of the half.
The next nine minutes were a back-and-forth battle between the two PL heavyweights, until a Dawn Gorynski three-pointer put Lehigh up 48-46 with 5:21 remaining.
Then, the Eagles tightened up their defense again and held Lehigh scoreless over the final five minutes. They ended on a 9-0 run to seal the road victory. Hunt scored four points during the game-ending run.
In addition to Hunt's output, senior guard Chanel Spriggs scored 10 points, registered five steals and dished out three assists. Spriggs' three assists moved her into the top 10 in AU history.
Junior guard Joanna Barnes scored nine points and tied her season high with 11 rebounds.
After suffering through a shooting slump for much of the season, Hunt broke out of it as she shot 8-of-16 from the field, including 5-of-7 from the line. She scored 15 of her game-high 21 in the second half to bring the Eagles back from the four-point halftime deficit.
The Eagles shot 56 percent in the second half after shooting only 25 percent in the first.
All five starters played more than 30 minutes for coach Shann Hart. Freshman center Kimeshia Junkins was the only reserve to see significant playing time. She scored two points and pulled down two rebounds in 10 minutes of action.
Gorynski was the only Mountain Hawk to score in double digits, as she scored 16 points. Jessica DePalo netted eight points and six rebounds for Lehigh, which was trying to sweep the season series from AU after a 69-55 win at Bender Arena on Jan. 17.
Freshman standout Sara Ellis, who burned the Eagles for 19 points and four three-pointers in January, scored only two points on Saturday, as she shot 0-for-5 from the field and 0-for-3 from three-point land.
This was the Eagles' third road win of the conference season and they now turn their attention to protecting their home court this upcoming weekend, as they host Holy Cross Friday night and Colgate Sunday afternoon.
Friday is AU's annual "Phil Bender" event, and the action starts at 5:30 p.m. as the Eagles look to establish themselves as the team to beat in the PL and secure home-court advantage for the league championship game.
AU will also be looking to avenge its loss from the last time the teams met, as Holy Cross dominated from the start, beating AU 74-56 on Jan. 25 in Worcester, Mass.
Friday's contest is also the second-to-last home game for seniors Kaitlyn Schuyler and Spriggs, who try to lead the Eagles to the promised land of the NCAA Tournament.