Tournament recap: American University women's basketball wins Patriot League Championship

AU women’s basketball defeats Bucknell after beating Lafayette and BU

Tournament recap: American University women's basketball wins Patriot League Championship

The American University Eagles won the Patriot League Championship for the third time in seven years after beating the Bucknell Bison, punching their ticket to the 2022 NCAA March Madness tournament.

Quarterfinals: AU escapes Lafayette 54-48

American University women’s basketball opened the 2022 postseason with a 54-48 win over Lafayette in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals. The Eagles built on their streak of dominant performances to close out the regular season, holding their opponent to under 50 points for the third straight game. 

Sophomore Emily Johns led the Eagles in scoring. In just 21 minutes of action, Johns scored 14 points, including a 50 percent performance from the field. She also added five rebounds and one steal in the game. 

“We all have confidence in each other,” Johns said postgame. “We just gotta keep that confidence going down the stretch.”

Two other Eagles joined Johns in double figures for the win. Senior Emily Fisher scored 10 points and senior Jade Edwards added 10 points, despite a cold shooting night for the senior. 

AU started out the game quiet on its first few possessions and Lafayette hit two jumpers early. The Eagles responded with a 6-2 run to close out the quarter, taking a one-point lead at the end of the first. Lafayette went on to outscore AU 13-10 in the second quarter.

Fisher went 75 percent from the floor in the first quarter, scoring seven points in the opening 10 minutes — including one triple. Johns also scored with six points by halftime, and Edwards had four rebounds. The Eagles lead 29 to 26 at the half.

AU’s defense smothered the Leopards. In addition to allowing just 26 points in the first half, the Eagles also forced 10 turnovers which they converted into four points. 

After much of AU’s offensive success came from the inside in the first half, senior Maddie Doring found success outside, scoring six points in the second half. Doring helped AU finally find some success from deep out of the break and outscore the Leopards 14-12 in the third quarter. The Eagles headed into the final ten minutes with a one-point lead.

The Eagles kept it rolling in the final quarter to seal the win, with 10 of their 15 fourth quarter points coming from the bench. AU’s bench finished with 26 points. 

“The bench stepped up big for us scoring-wise when we needed it,” head coach Megan Gebbia told The Eagle. “The senior leadership took control and was calming and poised even though things weren’t going great for us, I expect that of them.” 

Semifinals: AU runs over Boston University 70-48

American University women’s basketball advanced to a conference tournament championship game as it ran past the Boston University Terriers 70-48 in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals.

“Our team was really energetic,” Fisher said postgame. “For us seniors, we lost to them twice in the past two years so to get this win in the semifinal on our home court just feels amazing.”

The Eagles got a balanced scoring effort as Fisher led the team with 25 points while all nine players in the rotation found the basket. Senior Taylor Brown chipped in 9 points, four steals and three assists, while Johns added eight points as well. Junior Lauren Stack dominated down low with four boards — three of which were offensive — to go with two points. 

Edwards had a quiet day as she finished with seven points, four rebounds and three assists on 2-of-5 shooting in 28 minutes. Sophomore Ivy Bales also couldn’t find her shot as she hit just 1-of-4 from the floor.

After slow starts in its two previous games, AU jumped on BU from the opening tip and ran out to a quick 8-2 lead. Poor shooting plagued the Eagles, but they were flawless in every other aspect of their game. The Eagles forced BU into bad shots and turnovers and quickly went down the other end and scored on layups.

Fisher powered the offense in the opening minutes as she scored four of the Eagles’ first eight points — including an acrobatic reverse layup. She drove hard to the basket, where BU had no answers for her — or any other AU player. The Eagles totaled 10 points in the paint in the first quarter and 24 on the day.

After one quarter, AU led by 10 and the advantage only grew from there. Brown scored 4 straight points to start the second period as part of a 12-0 run from the Eagles. The Terriers found some footing at the end of the first half but even then, they couldn’t get the gap within 10 points at the midway point. AU went into the locker room with a comfortable 31-16 lead. 

Out of the break, BU scored 4 of the first 7 points in the quarter and cut the lead down to just 14 points, but the Eagles answered with a 5-2 run that quickly ended the Terriers’ comeback hopes. BU didn’t go away as it outscored AU 7-2 early in the fourth quarter but the Eagles’ sizable lead allowed them to come away with a 22-point victory.

“We’ve been able to adjust and we keep getting a little better because we’re not settling for where we are,” Gebbia said after the game. “I’m so proud of how they’ve digested it and said ‘Okay, we can do this.’”

Patriot League Championship: The Eagles punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a 65-54 win over the Bison

American University women’s basketball defeated the Bucknell Bison to claim its third Patriot League Tournament championship.

“I was getting emotional before the game just thinking about this class and what they’ve meant to me,” Gebbia said postgame. “It’s elation, it’s relief and it’s happiness for them.”

Fisher was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after averaging 14.3 points across the three games — including 8 in the championship — and helped the Eagles get off to a fast start each game.

Edwards had 21 points and four rebounds in the win to go with 12.6 and 5.6 rebounds per game across the weekend while Brown finished with 18 points on Sunday to go with six rebounds and four assists — averaging 10.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists in the tournament.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” Gebbia said of Fisher, Edwards and Brown. “We’ve been together since July. They all decided we were going to come in July and start this.”

Bucknell jumped out to a quick start at Bender Arena. The Bison defense forced a turnover on half of AU’s first eight possessions and scored off each one. Bucknell freshman Cecelia Collins hit a jumper to push the lead to 16-6, which prompted the Eagles to take a timeout. 

The break did enough to cool Bucknell off and gave AU an opening back into the game. Johns hit a 3-pointer to get the Eagles on the board and went on a 7-0 run to tie the game.

Despite the tie, turnovers plagued AU in the first half with six before halftime. The Eagles’ defense consistently bailed them out as they forced six turnovers themselves and held Bucknell to just 26 first half points.

Despite the sloppy performance, AU opened the second quarter on a 6-2 run and took a 3-point lead into the locker room.

Out of the break, the Bison looked like they’d make it a game in the second half. They started out on a 4-0 run to take the lead but then the Eagles made their run. Edwards and Brown made back-to-back layups, the first of five straight points. After a jumper from Bucknell stopped the bleeding, AU came back with another 10 points in a row.

The Eagles led by 5 after three quarters and outscored the Bison 19-13 in the fourth quarter en route to an 11-point victory.

“We’re not looked at as highly,” Fisher said after the game. “I think we can take that and really run with that, and we could surprise a lot of people. 

Lee Clarke contributed to the reporting of this story.

awalulik@theeagleonline.com

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