Led by a career-high 29 point, 15 rebound performance by Stephen Lumpkins, the American University men's basketball team defeated Navy 62-60 Wednesday night to advance to the Patriot League Tournament Semifinals. American, which has advanced to each of the last nine conference semi's, will now play at top-seeded Lehigh on Sunday, March 7, at 8:00 p.m.
The two teams began the game in a defensive struggle with American (11-19, 7-7) taking a 6-5 lead off a Lumpkins lay-in with 13:52 to play. The Eagles extended their lead to 10-5 with a Daniel Munoz jumper before a Matthew Wilson layup with 6:25 remaining put American ahead by six, 13-7.
Navy closed to within two, 13-11, on a Jordan Sugars three-pointer but American responded with an 8-0 run to take a 21-11 advantage. A Vlad Moldoveanu jumper and Wilson layup pushed the score to 17-11 with Lumpkins capping off the spurt with baskets on consecutive possessions. The Mid shipmen scored the final five points of the half though to put to within five, 26-21, at the break.
Lumpkins scored nine points in the frame on 4-of-5 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds. Nick Hendra added seven points on 3-of-6 shooting while Munoz and Wilson each tallied four. American controlled the game inside in the first half, outscoring Navy 14-4 in the paint and holding a 22-9 advantage on the glass. The Eagles also shot 46.2 percent after beginning 2-of-8 and held the Midshipmen to just 36.8 percent shooting.
American and Navy traded baskets early in the second half before back-to-back baskets by Chris Harris and Jordan Sugars made it a 34-32 game with 15:17 on the clock. Consecutive buckets by Lumpkins moved the score to 38-32 in American's favor but a quick 5-0 spurt pulled the Midshipmen to within one, 38-37.
Leading 48-46, a pair of Lumpkins free throws sparked a 9-0 run by the Eagles to open their largest lead of the day, 57-46, with 2:49 remaining. Navy, however, used an 8-1 stretch over a 32 second span to make it a three-point game with just 0:39 to play, 60-57.
Lumpkins pushed the score to 61-57 by hitting 1-of-2 from the line with 0:17 on the clock but a quick three-pointer from Romeo Garcia made it a 61-60 game with just 0:09 to go. A Munoz free throw pushed the score to 62-60 with 0:07 rem aining, setting up one final attempt for the Mids. Garcia's shot from half court at the buzzer fell short, however, sealing the victory for American.
Lumpkins scored a career-high 29 points and matched his career-best with 15 rebounds to power the Eagles to the win. The sophomore, who recorded his eight double-double of the season and third in as many games, shot 10-of-16 from the field and grabbed seven boards on the offensive end. He was joined in double-digits by Hendra who notched 12 points with seven rebounds. Moldoveanu finished his night with eight points and eight boards.
American shot 44.9 percent for the game and overcame a 2-of-10 performance from three with a dominant performance in the paint. The Eagles outscored Navy 30-12 down low, 12-4 off second chance points and held a 41-28 advantage on the glass.
American is now 9-0 all-time in Patriot League Tournament Quarterfinal matachups and is the only team since joining the conference in 2001-02 to advance to the semifinals each year. The Eagles have won eight straight Patriot League Tournament games in Bender Arena and are 8-1 all-time at home in the conference tournament.
The Eagles will now square off with top-seeded Lehigh this Sunday, March 7, at 8:00 p.m. in Bethlehem, Pa. Tickets to Sunday's game can be purchased online now by clicking here. Fans can also purchase tickets at the Bender Arena Box Office tomorrow, Thursday, March 4, from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Tickets are priced at $12 for adults and $6 for AU students and youth under-17.