Women's hoops come back for win over HC
The AU women's basketball team overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half yesterday to beat PL-rival Holy Cross 59-55 in the annual "Phil Bender" game. The victory was the first for the Eagles against the Crusaders since the 2004 PL semifinals.
The two teams would start off the game matching basket for basket in opening minutes of play. AU took their first lead of the game five minutes into the game on a lay-up by Nicole Ryan to go up 6-4.
This lead would not last long as the Crusaders quickly tied up the game before going on an 8-2 run to increase their lead to 26-19. A Ryan three-pointer with one minute remaining in the half would again tie the game at 28 before two free-throws by Holy Cross' Brittany Kiel gave the Crusaders a 30-28 lead heading into halftime.
Although both teams shot an even 33 percent in the first half of play, it would be the Crusaders that would gain the hot shooting touch coming out of the break. Holy Cross would hit seven of its first eight shots to go on a 15-4 run and take a commanding 45-32 lead.
However, this would be the biggest lead of the game for the Crusaders, as the Eagles would answer by going on an 18-3 run of their own.
The Eagles would get their first chance at the free-throw line with 10 minutes remaining in the game to cut the lead to three, 46-43. Another Ryan three-pointer would eventually give the Eagles the lead 50-48.
After trading baskets down the stretch, Ryan would hit another key basket, this time giving AU the lead for good with 36 seconds remaining at 57-55 before the team held on for the 59-55 victory.
Nicole Ryan led all scorers with 19 points, while teammate Liz Hayes contributed nine points, including going four of four from the free-throw line in the second half.
Free throw shooting would be the key to the Eagles victory, as they would connect on seven of eight foul shots in the second half to complete the comeback. Coach Melissa McFerrin believed this was essential to the team's win.
"They were big because we didn't get very much. Our offense is designed to be good at getting fouled. Liz Hayes definitely helped win the game for us," McFerrin said.
The victory for the Eagles improves their PL record to 3-2 and their overall season record to 8-12. AU next plays Navy at Bender Arena on Wednesday. The game tips off at 5:30 p.m.