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Eagles upset Crusaders for a victorious senior night

With Burwell on the bench, there’s nothing women’s basketball can’t do

American University women’s basketball (9-13) celebrated senior night with a statement victory over the reigning Patriot League champions Holy Cross (14-8) 74-68 at home on Feb. 10. 

In their second meeting of the season, the Eagles looked to end their two-game losing streak and secure a win to celebrate the team’s six seniors and one senior manager. The game also celebrated Black History Month. University president Sylvia Burwell joined the Eagles on the bench, ready to provide good luck with her game-day blazer and high school championship ring. 

In addition to Burwell’s surefire recipe for success, American had a six-day rest period between games, giving them time to build chemistry and ensure the team’s health. 

Head coach Tiffany Coll said the break helped with “getting everybody back and getting healthy.” With time to get the team back together, the team also focused on “individual skill sets and not just on our team’s dynamic,” Coll said. 

The game started with a bang for the Eagles, as graduate student forward Lauren Stack won the Eagles the tip-off. Senior guard Kayla Henning scored the game’s first points, and Holy Cross responded with their own basket. The Crusaders’ lead was short-lived as an impressive offensive performance by senior guard Ivy Bales put the Eagles back on the board. American’s defense was notably strong, leaving Holy Cross to fight the shot clock. A 3-point field goal followed by a free-throw from senior guard Anna LeMaster put the Eagles up 19-12 with two minutes of the quarter remaining. Henning and sophomore forward Molly Lavin continued American’s offensive masterclass, ultimately ending the quarter up 25-19. 

Holy Cross began the quarter by sinking a 3-pointer, but Henning responded with 2 buckets of her own. The Eagles had no trouble getting baskets to fall as LeMaster, Lavin, Henning, senior forward Emily Johns and sophomore guard Laura Nogues all contributed to American’s offensive showing. Nogues and Stack both added steals to the Eagles’ stat sheet, helping American hold their lead for the entire quarter. Following a 3-pointer by Lavin, the Eagles held a nine-point lead over the Crusaders. Despite Holy Cross ending the quarter with two back-to-back scoring runs, American was up 42-40 at the half. 

Holy Cross senior guard Bronagh Power-Cassidy was the game’s leading scorer at the half with a total of 19 points. Henning held second with nine points whilst Lavin and LeMaster tied for third with eight points each. 

The Crusaders began the third quarter with the ball and immediately nailed a lay-up to tie the game. LeMaster, Nogues, Johns and junior guard Bailey Garbee worked to keep the Eagles in the lead, but with five minutes remaining, Holy Cross gained their first advantage since the first quarter. Holy Cross went on a 7-0 run before Henning responded with 2 more points. At the close of the quarter, LeMaster minimized the Crusaders' lead to only one point. With just the fourth remaining, American trailed Holy Cross 58-57. 

While Holy Cross came out with a 3-pointer, LeMaster responded with three free-throws and Garbee sunk a jumper to gain the Eagles’ lead back. The Crusaders did their best to regain the lead, but Nogues and Lavin edged out Holy Cross’s comeback with impressive offensive runs. A crucial steal by Hennings prevented the Crusaders from tying the score while a lay-up and two free-throws from Nogues ensured the Eagle’s lead. Holy Cross marched down the court in an attempt to close the five-point gap with 21 seconds remaining, but a defensive rebound from Bales and a fastbreak back down-court by Henning cemented a victory for the Eagles. At the buzzer, American upset Holy Cross 74-68. 

Power-Cassidy remained the game’s top scorer, with a total of 24 points. LeMaster claimed second with 16 points while Henning and Nogues both held the title of third with 14 points each. 

Both LeMaster and Henning gave credit to their families’ support, being the extra push the team needed to beat Holy Cross. Henning said “To have all of them was really exciting. I feel like that and it being Senior Day was definitely a morale booster.” 

LeMaster added, “Obviously having family here, as well as a lot of family, that really helped.” 

The Eagles next face the Boston University Terriers in Boston, Massachusetts on Feb. 21.

This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks and Liah Argiropoulos.

sports@theeagleonline.com


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