American University 52, Holy Cross 39: Eagles emerge in second-half effort

AU pulled away from Holy Cross behind a second half defensive effort

American University 52, Holy Cross 39: Eagles emerge in second-half effort

The American University Eagles women’s basketball team ended a one-game losing skid, handling the Holy Cross Crusaders by a final score of 52-39 inside Bender Arena Wednesday evening. 

AU led by five at the half, but the defense stepped up in the second, allowing just 16 Holy Cross points. The AU offense started off strong behind junior Lauren Stack and senior Emily Fisher. The two players scored four points each by the first media timeout and although the defense continued to linger, AU held a slight lead.

As the half wore on, Holy Cross couldn’t seem to stop senior Taylor Brown. A screen on the right-wing gave her as open of a look as she’s had all season — she buried it to give AU a 15-8 lead. Stack made another shot and more defensive attention followed. On the next play she was doubled and found senior Jade Edwards up top for a wide-open three.

Holy Cross hung tough through the beginning of the game however, grabbing five offensive rebounds in the first 14 minutes for 4 second-chance points. But Brown ripped off one more quick layup, smiling at the AU bench after she made her third and retreated toward the other end to make it 22-17.

As the half wound down, a Fisher bucket increased AU’s lead to five. Then, after being fouled on a layup attempt, sophomore Emily Johns made two out of two to make it a three-possession game. Sophomore Riley DeRubbo then scored inside to bring the lead to seven and as the half came to a close, Crusaders sophomore Cara McCormack tipped in a Holy Cross miss just before the halftime buzzer to give Holy Cross a 28-23 deficit at the intermission. 

Fisher’s seven points led the Eagles. Holy Cross shot 11-30 from the floor and 1-12 from three while AU shot 12-27 from the floor and 2-9 from three. The Crusaders had a slight edge on the glass 20-16.

AU came out aggressive on offense following the intermission to the tune of a 5-2 run as Fisher got things going with a score outside on the second possession. Holy Cross made two free throws to answer, but freshman Bailey Garbee followed it up with a right-handed layup inside, then senior Maddie Doring made a free throw after being fouled to continue the run.

Then DeRubbo scored inside off a feed from Edwards. After making three first-half buckets, Brown wasn’t given much room to breathe in the second half. She put the ball on the deck, drew a foul and made two free throws to give AU a 14 point lead. An Edwards jumper on the next play pushed the lead to 16, resulting in a Maureen Magarity timeout before the first media timeout.

Later, Brown’s fifth basket — this time from the left — gave AU a 14-point edge and pushed her to 10 points for the game, making it her tenth 10-point game of the season.

Down the stretch, AU got more open looks and made them, going 7-13 from the floor in the fourth quarter. The defense as a whole stepped up too, limiting Holy Cross to just 5-26 shooting in the final 20 minutes including 0-7 from outside the arc.

After the game, as Edwards walked to the bench, AU fans stood and applauded her 5 point-8 rebound-5 assist effort, as she joined elite company and became the 20th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points. 

Brown led all scorers with 12 points on 6-15 shooting while Fisher finished with 10 points and seven assists. Stack chipped in six points.

For the game, AU shot 22-57 from the floor and 5-19 from three. 

AU travels on Sunday to take on Bucknell. That game tips at 4 p.m. EST and airs on the CBS Sports Network.

awalulik@theeagleonline.com 

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