Video Highlights (ALL VIDEO)
Freshman Mike Bersch scored a season-high 16 points with four three-pointers as the American University men's basketball team lost to Manhattan on Wednesday in Bender Arena, 69-62. Bersch was joined in double-digits by Riley Grafft who recorded his first career double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Manhattan (3-2) opened the game on a 14-1 run, hitting five of its first seven shots. American (0-6) answered back with a 12-2 run of its own, closing its deficit to three points, 16-13, with 8:26 remaining. The stretch was keyed by a Bersch layup in transition followed by a Bersch jumper and was capped off by a Stephen Lumpkins jumper in the paint. The Jaspers regained an eight point advantage, 21-13, after Darryl Crawford scored five straight points but a Lumpkins basket off a feed from Simon McCormack and a Bersch three pulled American right back to within three, 21-18, with 4:01 to play.
Manhattan would again lead by as many as seven before the break, 25-18, before an 11-0 spurt by the Eagles put them on top for the first time in the game, 29-25, with 32 ticks left on the clock. It was Bersch who once again sparked the comeback as he knocked down a three-pointer and then corralled an offensive rebound which led to a Blake Jolivette bucket. Bersch's third three of the frame gave American the lead, 26-25, and was followed by a Daniel Munoz trey to push the score to 29-25. Before time expired Rico Pickett would add a final basket for Manhattan, bringing the halftime score to 29-27 in favor of the Eagles.
Bersch led all scorers at the break with 13 points as he connected on 5-of-8 shots from the floor. As a team, American shot 50.0 percent (12-24) in the first half against Manhattan's 33.3 percent (11-33) and outrebounded the Jaspers by a margin of 21-14.
American was unable to hold its lead in the opening moments of the second stanza as a Grafft jumper which moved the score to 31-28 was followed by a 12-1 Manhattan run to give the Jaspers a 40-32 advantage. Manhattan held a 10-point lead, 48-38, with 9:51 remaining before a quick five-point outburst by the Eagles cut the score to 48-43. Manhattan, however, would reopen its 10-point spread, 56-46, with a 5-0 run of its own.
American cut the lead to as few as four points, 56-52, with 4:12 on the clock as Grafft scored six straight points off four free throws and a jumper. The Jaspers answered back with a jumper by Brandon Adams on their next possession and increased the margin to as many as 11 points, 65-54, on a Crawford basket in transition with only 0:52 remaining. The two team's traded points back-and-forth in the closing moments of the game before the final buzzer sounded the Manhattan victory, 69-62.
Bersch led the Eagles with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting. The freshman knocked down four three-pointers while adding seven rebounds and two blocks. Grafft recorded the first double-double of his career with 15 points and 12 rebounds as he made 7-of-8 attempts from the free throw line. The Eagles outrebounded the Jaspers 44-32 and shot 43.8 percent (21-48) from the field. Manhattan was led by Crawford's 26 points and also received double-digit production from Picket and Antoine Pearson who scored 13 points and 12 points, respectively.
American will return to action this Saturday, November 28, at Maryland-Eastern Shore. Tipoff from Princess Anne, Md., is set for 2 p.m. Live video, audio and stats of the game will be available on UMES's website by clicking here. The Eagles will then return home to play cross-town rival Howard on Tuesday, December 1, at 7:30 p.m. in a game which can be seen locally on RCN Cable. Tickets to the game against Howard are on-sale now and can be purchased by clicking here.