American University 80, Army 65: Eagles guards lead the way for win
After a heartbreaking loss to Bucknell, AU bounced back behind a combined 27 points
The American University women’s basketball team (10-5) picked up another much-needed Patriot League win by defeating the Army Black Knights (8-7) 80-65 on Jan. 19. The hot shooting of the Eagles' guards propelled the team to victory, with seniors Jade Edwards and Maddie Doring scoring over 11 points each.
Army tried to bully AU on the inside early on. The Black Knights took a majority of their shots at the basket, but strong defense from senior Taylor Brown and a 3:57 minute cameo from freshman Bailey Garbee, who recorded two points and a steal during her short time on the floor, shut down a majority of Army’s offense. Army, as is tradition with its offense, held off on shots early in the shot clock and couldn’t grab offensive rebounds off misses.
The Eagles opened up an early lead thanks to solid shooting. AU started the game 5-9 from the field and led by as much as seven. However, the turnovers started to pile up at the same time, leading to a 6-2 Army run. Army ended the half by forcing six AU turnovers and used the changes of possession to cut into the lead.
To compensate, AU head coach Megan Gebbia turned to a well-known commodity — the bench. AU once again utilized the three-guard lineup with senior Emily Fisher as the primary ball-handler. Sophomore Kayla Henning got extended minutes at the end of the first half after playing only nine minutes in AU’s last game. Fisher getting the ball out of Doring’s hands stemmed the flow of unnecessary turnovers.
Towards the end of the first half, the strengths of each team showed with Army dominating the inside and AU working outside. Army was 7-14 from two-point range in the first half, while the Eagles were 3-6 on three-point attempts.
AU took advantage of a smaller Army lineup at the start of the second half to stretch out a small lead. The Black Knights didn’t have their two starting bigs in senior Kate Murray and junior Sabria Hunter in the game and that allowed the Eagles to take control inside on both sides of the court. Jade Edwards was a big benefactor with a couple of defensive rebounds and scores under the basket.
What followed was a welcome sight to AU fans — the duo of Emily Fisher and Doring went to work. Both nailed a three to jolt life into the Bender Arena crowd. Fisher finished with 9 points and Doring finished with 12 points.
To seal the game, Edwards asserted her presence on the court. Edwards finished with 15 points and three rebounds with a performance that included three steals and a decisive presence on the inside.
Don’t leave Maddie Doring open
If you didn’t already know, Maddie Doring is an absolute bucket from almost anywhere on the court. She creates her shot well off the dribble and can always drain a spot-up shot if needed. The loss to Bucknell might have left a sour taste in her mouth or not, but Doring came into this game with cruel intentions.
Doring connected on her first three-point attempt from well beyond distance within the first six minutes, helping AU to a 7-4 lead. She also connected on a nasty turnaround jumper from the paint with a defender in her face for her second bucket of the game and helped set up some scoring opportunities for her teammates with her willingness to pass the ball. In 10 minutes, Doring had 5 points and an assist on a stellar 2-3 shooting.
In the closing minutes of the second quarter, Doring hit a three-pointer from the top of the arc to bring her total up to 8 on the night. A few seconds later, Doring found her groove by making two more shots including an acrobatic layup for her 10th point of the night. When the final buzzer sounded, Doring finished with 12 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound and 1 steal on 5-8 shooting from the field and 2-5 from beyond the arc.
“Maddie being able to score really helped our transition game,” Gebbia said postgame. “It was nice to see her score and do the things I know she’s capable of doing.”
Strong playmaking leads to better shot selection
To win against a hungry Army Black Knights team, AU needed to find ways to score in a meaningful way. Tonight, strong playmaking came through. While AU in the first quarter had only 3 assists, their playmaking expands far beyond the box score. Players were making the extra pass to make good plays into great ones. We saw every member of AU’s starting five help their teammates score in the most efficient ways possible.
The Eagles were efficient in the first quarter, shooting 6-13 from the field and 1-3 from three-point range. Through the first nine minutes of the second quarter, AU outscored the Black Knights 33-15 on 14-17 shooting and 2-3 shooting from beyond the arc, while collecting 8 assists during that run. When the game was all said and done, the Eagles finished with 16 assists as a team.
AU played some of the most selfless basketball of their entire season and walked away with a win because of it.
“We know how talented we are and this is something that we’ve definitely been stressing lately,” Doring said. “We want to get everyone more involved and we’re showing a lot of growth in applying those intentions.”
AU returned home this past Saturday to host Loyola Maryland, defeating the Greyhounds 53-49.