American University men's basketball took on cross-town rival Howard at Burr Gymnasium on Tuesday night, but lost a close decision that went down to the wire, 55-50. Senior forward Stephen Lumpkins just neared a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds, but Howard's Mike Phillips took over the game late, scoring 11-straight points for the Bison as they overtook American.
The Eagles (3-5) limited Howard (2-7) to 38.5 percent shooting from the field and 27.8 from behind the line. American took the lead at 19-14 with 8:54 remaining in the first half and held the advantage nearly the entire game, but Phillips' heroics would not be outdone.
After two Howard free throws, senior Mike Bersch came through with a tip-in with 45 seconds left, but his deep 3-point try after two more free throws by the Bison came up short.
"We did not execute and Howard took advantage of those opportunities," said head coach Jeff Jones. "We got beat on the boards tonight and we must do a better job rebounding the basketball as well as making open shots when they present themselves."
Lumpkins faced constant double-teams and often triple and even quadruple teams throughout the game, making it a tough contest down low for the fourth-year big man.
It was a well-rounded effort for American in the first half as all seven Eagles who saw court time found the bottom of the net with six scoring three or more points and three with four or more.
Still, Howard was able to stay with American in the first as Phillips netted eight points and Simuel Frazier knocked down a trey just before the buzzer, keeping the Bison within two of the Eagles at the break, 26-24.
The crowd at Burr Gym came alive after the half and the Bison seemed to feed on the energy, gradually eating away at the American lead, which reach five points with 10:15 to play.