American University men's basketball nearly pulled off the upset on Friday night at the Patriot Center, giving George Mason all it could handle, holding a one-point lead with under four minutes to play, but the Patriots fed off its home crowd for an eventual 63-60 win.
American was locked in from the field in the first half as the Eagles knocked down 13-of-24 shots, including 6-of-12 from long range. It was George Mason's guard duo of Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen that made the differennce however, as they combined for 33 points and came up with clutch baskets down the stretch to avoid losing on its home floor in the season-opener.
"I'm happy with the way we competed. We gave ourselves a chance to win the game. That's a good team, so I'm happy with where we are as a squad; we just need to improve upon it, " said head coach Mike Brennan. "We have been working hard on our offense and we need to continue to be aggressive. We got good looks throughout the game, but didn't knock them down towards the end."
American came out hot in the contest, opening up a 23-9 lead, keeping the Patriots off balance with intensity on defense while knocking down several contested looks on the opposite end.
The Eagles did a good job taking the crowd out of the game in the early going, but Mason fought back to take a one-point lead into the half.
The two teams continued to battle throughout the second with the lead changing hands three times in the first 10 minutes before a 3-pointer by junior John Schoof with just over six minutes remaining gave AU its biggest lead of the stanza, 54-49.
Another 3-pointer, this time by sophomore Marko Vasic, kept the American advantage at five with 4:16 left, but Mason used an 11-3 run to close out the game to keep the Eagles from the upset.
Junior forward Kyle Kager grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, just missing his first career double-double with eight points in 20 minutes of action. Senior center Tony Wroblicky swatted five shots, while affecting numerous others despite battling foul trouble.
A limited amount of premium location, sideline reserved chairback seats are available for AU's next game, the Bender Arena home-opener on Thursday, November 14, at 7 p.m., against UMBC, and can be purchased online at AUeagles.com/Tickets or by calling (202) 885-TIXX. Season tickets, the "Bender Weekender" 5-game mini-plan, as well as group tickets to call home games can also be purchased.