American put together a 19-3 first-half run and never looked back en route to a 72-44 victory over visiting Holy Cross in the Patriot League tournament quarterfinals on Saturday.
Lisa Strack led the Eagles with a game-high 15 points and Ashley Yencho added 13 off the bench as third-seeded American advanced to the semifinals on Wednesday night against either second-seeded Lehigh or seventh-seeded Lafayette.
American (21-8, 10-4 Patriot League) struggled early on as sixth-seeded Holy Cross (10-20, 6-8) jumped to a 17-8 advantage midway through the first half. But the Eagles began to find their offensive rhythm, beginning with a three from Nicole Ryan and a steal and coast-to-coast layup by Ebony Edwards. Strack followed with another layup and Liz Leer added a basket, tying the game at 17 with 8 minutes 17 seconds left.
Yencho had eight points in the opening half as the Eagles took a 36-28 lead into the break.
The Eagles extended their lead by hitting their first four three-pointers of the second half.
Holy Cross tried to fight its way back in the game but only cut its deficit to 11.
American got a boost from it bench, which outscored Holy Cross’s reserves 35-10.
“We talked this week coming into the game about how important bench play is to winning in the tournament,” Eagles Coach Matt Corkery said. “Everyone is going to have five starters who can contribute but lots of times its the bench that provides the difference. It was a lot of fun to see those guys come off the bench today, play well and give us a big boost.”
In addition to the strong bench play, the Eagles held a 43-25 advantage on the boards.
“Rebounding was huge,” added Corkery. “We didn’t off to the best start as a flow offensively but the offensive rebounds really helped us stay in the game and create some extra possessions.”