American University women’s basketball team bounces back in the second half to beat UMBC
AU moves to 4-2 on the season
The American University Eagles women’s basketball team beat the University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers 55-47 during Tuesday’s game.
Both teams got off to hot starts offensively. Senior forward Taylor Brown once again scored the first bucket for AU. Brown then scored six of AU’s next nine points. UMBC employed a fast break offense to repeatedly beat AU’s defense down the floor. A 7-of-15 shooting performance gave the Retrievers a 14-12 lead at the end of the quarter.
AU eventually got other players involved as the half wore on, but the defense continued to struggle.
Offensively, sophomore guard Riley DeRubbo made a pull-up two. Junior forward Lauren Stack, who did a good job on the defensive glass, connected on a layup and AU jumped out to a 16-14 lead. The Retrievers then found themselves offensively going on a 6-0 run and jumping out to a 22-16 lead at the second-quarter media timeout.
However, senior guard Maddie Doring was determined to score for AU. She continued her offensive onslaught, and was a source of instant offense, taking the defender one-on-one instead of running the offense. Doring drove to the right side and pump-faked her defender on the baseline, side-stepped and made the floater. Then she made a 3-point jumper. Doring’s offense kept the game close for AU, but they were down 25-27 after the first half despite the defensive slog.
Shooting from beyond the arc was an issue for the Eagles. AU missed its first nine three-point attempts of the half, and the Eagles shot 8-28, or 28.6 percent, in the first half behind Brown’s 8 points.
Both offenses were clicking after the break as AU made three inside shots in the first three minutes to take a 31-30 lead. And its defense improved as sophomore guard Emily Johns finished with a physical second-chance layup, senior guard Emily Fisher scored on a floater and Brown hit another shot. AU led 37-32 with 2:39 left in the quarter.
UMBC went to aggressive on-ball defense to some avail, forcing AU to turn the ball over and struggle to find open shots. On one occasion though, AU took advantage, finding a cutting freshman guard Bailey Garbee for a breathtaking and-1 which was her first career basket.
UMBC stayed with its aggression the rest of the way. The defense forced some turnovers as the Retrievers slowly chipped into AU’s lead. Late in the quarter, clinging to a 51-47 lead, Doring missed a layup, but Brown rebounded the miss and converted on the second-chance points. Bender Arena erupted, and Brown’s layup put AU comfortably ahead.
Keep an eye on Taylor Brown
This season has been filled with ups and downs for Brown. Against Vermont, Brown shot 1-4 from the field and 0-1 from beyond the arch. The senior forward has been inconsistent at times but also a key difference-maker in the games where she is making her shots at an efficient rate.
In the first half of Wednesday’s game, Brown was much more efficient shooting 2-5 from the field and 4-4 from the line. In the second half, Brown continued to have the hot hand, scoring 8 points on 4-5 from the field. Brown finished the contest with 16 points and 8 rebounds, while also making a game-sealing layup off an offensive rebound. If Brown can continue this hot streak with an already imposing AU offensive-heavy lineup, the Patriot League better look out for the Eagles.
Rebounding and defense looked strong in the second half, but problems are still clear
After three consecutive games where the Eagle’s defense and rebounding looked suspect, head coach Megan Gebbia and the team got back on track during Wednesday’s game against UMBC.
The defense worked efficiently in the second half holding UMBC to 20 points, but the first half brought the Eagles some trouble trying to stop the Retrievers. A 6-2 first-quarter lead disappeared out of thin air as UMBC went on an 8-1 run with 2:22 left in the first quarter. AU also allowed 27 first-half points by the Retrievers.
However, AU’s defense was able to turn things around after the first half, mainly through solid shot contests, help defense when necessary and strong defensive rebounding.
The Eagles grabbed 35 rebounds Wednesday night with 15 of those being offensive rebounds while holding UMBC to 9 offensive rebounds. While AU’s total rebounds Wednesday night were above their average this season, they struggled at times early in the game to make scoring opportunities out of the defensive rebounds they got. There is still time to turn things around on defense and rebounding play for AU, but it will certainly take a team effort to execute.
AU will play Radford in their third home game on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. ET. That game will air on ESPN+.