In what was thought to be a rebuilding year with an abundance of young players for the AU women’s basketball team, the Eagles proved its doubters wrong as it defeated Lehigh 68-57 to advance to its second straight Patriot League Tournament finals on Thursday.
Second-seeded AU (22-9, 16-2 PL) got out to a hot start, shooting 59.3 percent, giving the Eagles a 38-35 lead at the break. The struggle for the Eagles in the half was offensive rebounding. AU was out-rebounded by Lehigh 9-0, a statistic which allowed the Mountain Hawks to take more shots and score 35 points.
In the second half, Lehigh switched into a challenging zone defense, which made it difficult for the Eagles to get good looks. Despite this, AU also played especially strong defense, which helped the team cruise to an 11-point victory.
The team relied on a balanced scoring attack from its starting lineup throughout the game. Guards Kaitlyn Marenyi, Jade Edwards and Kaitlyn Lewis combined to score 43 points, while senior forward Cecily Carl contributed 20 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
In a game where team statistics were similar, head coach Megan Gebbia felt the difference was the 16-18 shooting performance from the free throw line in the second half.
“It came down to free throw shooting there at the end for us. That’s what really made the difference,” Gebbia said.
AU will travel to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to face the first-seeded Bucknell Bison in the championship game on Sunday at 12 p.m. Fans can watch the game on CBS Sports Network.
“Bucknell is a terrific team, they are experienced and can score at every position,” Gebbia said. “It’s gonna be a fight, we just need to execute.”