Men’s Basketball’s Late Surge Comes Up Just Short at Lafayette, 80-72

No. 14 Jesse Reed
No. 14 Jesse Reed

The American University men's basketball team had one of its largest offensive outputs of the season as five Eagles scored in double-figures in the team's regular season finale at Lafayette.  It was actually the Leopards shooting that was the story however as they knocked down 57.4 percent of their shots from the field to trump AU, 80-72. With the win Lafayette clinched the No. 2 Seed in the Patriot League tournament. American is the No. 5 seed and will travel to No. 4 Army on Wednesday, March 6, at 7 p.m.

American (10-19, 5-9 PL) shot over fifty percent from the floor and from 3-point range, knocking down nine from distance, but Lafayette (17-14, 10-2) matched American shot-for-shot in the early going, before building a 17-point lead midway through the second half.

The Eagles worked their way back into the game and cut the advantage to just four points with 23 seconds left, but the Leopards' clutch free throw shooting down the stretch kept AU from getting any closer.

"We played with energy late and that's what brought us back into it," said head coach Jeff Jones. "For much of the game Lafayette was the more aggressive basketball team and that made the difference. We found a rotation of players that gave us a spark late, but turnovers were costly for us."

Lafayette made the most of American's miscue's converting 13 AU turnovers into 27 points. AU owned the advantage on the boards, 27-21 and was plus-11 in second-chance points.

Senior point guard Daniel Munoz led five Eagles in double-digits with 13 points and added six assists in a complete-game effort.

Lafayette built a seven-point lead to start the game at 16-9, but a 3-pointer from senior Mike Bersch started an American run which eventually gave AU a 19-18 advantage. The Eagles held the lead at 22-20, but a late Leopard push saw Lafayette go into the break up 33-27.

AU scored the first four points out of the half to make it just a two-point game, but Lafayette quickly found its shooting stroke again, jumping out to its biggest lead of the game at 57-40.

Despite the Leopard advantage, the Eagles slowly chipped away at the lead, making it a single-digit deficit at 66-59 after a 3-pointer from sophomore John Schoof with 3:15 remaining.

The two teams continued to trade baskets until Munoz found Bersch for a triple that made it 74-70 with 23 seconds to go. With no timeouts, AU was forced to foul but Lafayette went a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe to seal the win.

Schoof finished the game 4-of-7 from downtown for 12 points, while senior Stephen Lumpkins also chipped in 12 with a team-high seven rebounds.

Bersch's two triples helped him to double digit points, finishing with 10, while junior center Tony Wroblicky had an active 26 minutes, with 11 points, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

No. 5 American and No. 4 Army will square off in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament this coming Wednesday, March 6, at West Point, with winner going on to face the victor of No. 1 Bucknell vs. No. 8 Navy.

Wednesday's game will be broadcast live on Federal News Radio 1050AM, as well as via webstream on Patriot League All*Access. 

AU fans and alumni planning to attend the road game at Army are encouraged to reserve tickets in the American fan seating block by calling the AU Athletics Tickets office. Eagles fans should call (202) 885-TIXX beginning this Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. Fans may also email with contact info and a representative will return your call. All tickets in the AU fan section must be purchased by 4 p.m. this Tuesday, March 5, at the latest.  Seating space is limited. Tickets prices, set by the Patriot League, are $12 for adults and $6 for youth and seniors.