WASHINGTON – The University of Denver women’s basketball team struggled in the second half against American and the Eagles took advantage, pulling away late, 66-53.
The Pioneers fell to 6-5 on the season, while AU improved to 6-3.
A hot second quarter looked promising for DU as the team shot 43.8 percent (7-for-16) from the field and 57.1 percent (4-for-7) from 3-point territory. However, American’s hot fourth period cancelled out Denver’s second, as the Eagles shot 72.7 percent (8-for-11) from field-goal range and 75 percent (3-for-4) from behind the arc.
Samantha Romanowski, who dropped in 12 points and passed out three assists in the loss, led the Crimson and Gold. The junior shot 33.3 percent (3-for-9) from the field and 33.3 percent (1-for-3) from 3. Carie Weinman wasn’t too far behind, as the freshman scored 10 points.
Madison Nelson led the team in rebounds as the sophomore grabbed 12 while scoring seven points. Meanwhile, Briana Johnson had four steals, four rebounds and chalked up five points.
As a team, DU finished the contest with a shooting percentage of 31 percent (18-for-58) from field-goal range and 23.8 percent (5-for-21) from the arc. The squad forced 15 turnovers, grabbed 39 rebounds and had eight steals.
The Eagles and Denver traded blows the first five minutes of the game, as both teams struggled to get the first serious lead of the contest.
Down by four with only seconds to play in the first, Ciera Morgan drove to the hoop for the Pioneers and scored a quick lay-in.
Into the second, American’s Cecily Carl sunk the team’s second trey of the game and gave the Eagles a five-point edge, 15-10.
With just under six minutes until the break, AU’s margin had increased to six thanks to Carl splitting a pair of free throws but Romanowski responded with the Crimson and Gold’s first 3.
However, on the next American possession Carl responded with her second triple of the game.
DU started to feel it in the second, as Weinman scored the team’s second trey and brought the squad within one.
Denver finally took the lead, 26-24 following a 3 from Grace White (Red Lake Nation) and a short jumper from Weinman on back-to-back possessions.
The Crimson and Gold offense continued to roll through the second period, going on a 10-5 run over the last few minutes.
At the half, the Pioneers led 31-29, as Weinman led the team with nine points. The freshman shot 60 percent (3-for-5) from the field and 50 percent (1-for-2) from behind the arc.
As a team, DU shot 39.3 percent (11-for-28) from field-goal range and 36.4 percent (4-for-11) from 3-point territory. The team also had six steals and forced nine turnovers.
The Eagles started the third hot, scoring five unanswered points capped off by an old-fashion three-point play from Emily Kinneston.
A Johnson layup got Denver back within one, and a Romanowski jumper a few possessions later retook the advantage, 35-34 for the Pioneers.
American was quick to respond with a trey, but buckets from Romanowski followed by Claire Gritt returned control to the Crimson and Gold.
Both teams battled for the edge at the end of the third, but AU held the advantage at the end of the quarter, 41-40.
The battled continued in the fourth, as each team struck blows to retake the lead. However, DU built a four-point margin as Jordyn Alt drained a 3.
The Eagles tied the game at 49 following a long 2 from Kinneston with just under six minutes to play. American continued to roll, as AU entered an 11-2 run after the Kinneston score.
Denver cut the lead to six, 58-52 thanks to a free throw from Romanowski with fewer than two minutes to play, but the Crimson and Gold failed to get any closer.
The team returns to play on Saturday, as they head to Logan, Utah to take on Utah State.