American University men's basketball took on a Lafayette squad which was riding a three-game Patriot League win streak, but the Eagles used solid shooting and tough defense to down the Leopards, 68-64. The Eagles got a season-high 24 points from Stephen Lumpkins while AU shot over 50 percent from the field and from 3-point range.
American (8-14, 3-4 PL) held the Lafayette (10-12, 4-3 PL) offense in check throughout the first half and limited the Leopards to just 26.1% (6-of-23) shooting, building a double-digit lead. Lafayette fought back however, eventually taking the lead with under nine minutes left in the game.
The Eagles remained composed, relying on its impressive shooting to retake the lead for good on a jumper by senior Blake Jolivette with 7:10 remaining and did not look back.
"It was a big conference win that we needed," said head coach Jeff Jones. "It was definitely a tale of two halves. Our half court game was good in the first but Lafayette is a handful to guard. We got some tough baskets when we needed them down the stretch."
It was an evenly matched start to the game with the two teams battling to an 11-all tie. From there, American used a 13-3 run to open up a 10-point lead on the Leopards.
The Eagles limited Lafayette to just 16 points in the first, a season-best mark for the AU defense, and held a 13-point lead at the break.
American scored the first two baskets on jumpers from Lumpkins after halftime and built its biggest lead of 17 points at 33-16.
AU held a double-digit lead at 39-29 after two free throws from Daniel Munoz, but from there it was all Lafayette. The Leopards used a 9-0 run to close within just one point of the Eagles before eventually pulling ahead, 48-47, on a 3-pointer from Bryce Scott.
On the next possession, American got a huge 3-pointer from sophomore John Schoof and never trailed again.
Lafayette did not go away easy however, closing to within two points at 55-53, before a trey from senior Mike Bersch gave AU some room to breath.
It was a wild final minute with Lafayette's Seth Hinrichs laying one in with 58 seconds left to bring the Leopards within two points. Munoz answered with a layup of his own, but was countered by Tony Johnson with yet another lay-in with just 21 seconds left.
Lafayette was forced to foul, but Munoz knocked down two free throws in a 1-and-1 situation for an eventual, 68-64, American win.
Munoz finished second on the team with 12 points and a team-high five assists while knocking down 8-of-8 free throws. Schoof was the third Eagle in double figures with 11 points, including three triples, while adding four rebounds and three assists.
American wraps up its three-game homestand next Saturday, February 9, at 3 p.m., against Colgate. It will be the third-annual "Bender White-Out" game with the first 1,000 students and first 500 fans receiving a free t-shirt courtesy of AU Student Government and American Athletics. Doors open early at 1:30 p.m., with the fifth-annual Hall of Fame Day Silent Auction taking place on the Bender Arena concourse. Admission to the auction is free with the purchase of a game ticket. All proceeds will benefit American University students-athletes.
Tickets are still available to this game and to all AU home games by clicking here or by calling (202) 885-TIXX.