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The American University men’s basketball team lost a second straight game in the closing moments on Monday as Albany escaped Bender Arena with a 51-50 win in the Eagles' home opener. Trailing by one point with 11 seconds remaining, the Eagles had an opportunity to win the game but Daniel Munoz's runner in the lane just missed the mark as time expired, sealing the victory for the Great Danes.
After trading blows to being the game, Albany (1-2) opened a six point lead at the 11 minute mark on a Scotty McRae jumper. The Eagles, however, stormed back with a 21-6 run over a seven-plus minute span to take a 29-20 lead with just under four-minutes remaining. Stephen Lumpkins helped to spark the run as he found Simon McCormack for a layup to make the score 14-10 and then assists on a Nick Hendra three on the team's next trip down the court to move the score to 14-13. Lumpkins later added a basket of his own after grabbing an offensive rebound before beginning a fast break which led to a Munoz layup in transition to cap the run off.
Despite American's (0-2) offensive surge, Albany was able to cut its deficit to four, 29-25, with 3:05 on the clock as Jake Lindfors connected on a three-pointer and Mike Johnson added a basket in transition on consecutive trips down the court. American would score the final basket of the frame though with a Riley Grafft layup, sending the Eagles into the intermission holding a 33-27 lead.
American outshot the Great Danes in the first half by a margin of 43.8 percent (14-32) to 37.5 percent (12-32) and outscored Albany in the paint 20-10. Lumpkins had a game-high eight points at the break with five rebounds while Blake Jolivette had contributed six points off the bench.
Lumpkins extended American's advantage to eight points in the opening minute of the second half, 35-27, but a 14-4 Albany run between the 17 minute mark and 10 minute mark erased the Great Danes deficit and gave Albany a 43-41 lead. McRae scored nine points during the stretch for the Great Danes, knocking down a three-pointer to begin the run and adding a jumper with 10:11 remaining to close it out.
A McCormack basket in the paint tied the game at 43 but a pair of Ambrose free throws and a Will Harris bucket regained the lead for Albany, 47-43, with 8:19 on the clock. American, however, would answer back once again and tied the score at 47 off four straight points scored by McCormack before a Munoz three-point play with 2:25 to play put the Eagles back on top, 50-49.
On the Great Danes' ensuing possession, Ambrose corralled an offensive rebound off a McRae miss and got the put back with 1:58 remaining for a 51-50 Albany lead. American was unsuccessful in its next two trips down the court and was forced to foul late, setting the scene for the game's final play.
With Ambrose on the line in a 1-and-1 situation, the guard, who had made all four of his previous attempts from the line, missed the front end and the rebound was pulled down by Hendra. The junior took the ball himself the length of the court before passing off to Munoz at the top of the key. With just four seconds remaining, Munoz drove to his right and put up a floater from inside the lane but his attempt was just off the mark as time expired, sealing the 51-50 victory for Albany.
"We talked about being the hardest working team out there and I think we were tonight," Head Coach Jeff Jones commented following the game. "That was a more experienced, bigger, stronger, more athletic team but our young guys scraped. Our focus is not looking back but finding things we can get better at."
Lumpkins scored a team-high 12 points and added seven rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal in 31 minutes. McCormack chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and two assists off the bench while Munoz tallied seven points and one steal. Ambrose and McRae each notched a game-high 14 points for Albany while Ambrose added five assists and McRae seven rebounds. The Eagles finished the game shooting 38.2 percent (21-55) from the floor while Albany shot 39.6 percent (21-53).
American will return to the floor in the second game of this five-game homestand when they face Mount. St. Mary's on Wednesday, November 18, at 7:30 p.m. in Bender Arena Tickets to the game are still available and can be purchased by clicking here.
Fans unable to make it to Bender Arena in person Wednesday night can watch all of the action live on Eagles Vision TV, featuring analysis from the Eagles broadcast team of Dan Laing and Jeremy Huber, multiple camera angles and a live scoreboard. To sign up for Eagles Vision TV today, click here.