American University men's basketball was victorious on Thursday night in its home opener at Bender Arena, giving head coach Mike Brennan his first career victory with a 63-61 overtime win against UMBC. American prevailed in thrilling fashion as it took last second shots at the end of regulation and overtime by the Eagles.
Junior guard Darius Gardner played all 45 minutes of the game, scoring 22 points with nine rebounds, four assists and six steals and came up with the clutch shot at the end of the second half.
Trailing by eight points with 4:37 remaining, the Eagles (1-1) ended regulation on a 10-3 run to force overtime as Gardner hit a jumper with one second left.
In overtime, AU took an early lead, but the Retrievers (1-2) fought back to tie it at 61-all, before sophomore Jesse Reed's layup with one second remaining, put AU up for good.
"We showed resiliency tonight," said Brennan. "It is a good win for us. "Pee Wee" was big all night, showcasing his great decision making. We have a good group which are very coachable and get better each day. We need everyone to contribute."
American overcame poor shooting in the first half, hitting only 26.7 percent of its shots, but took a 26-24 lead into the break.
The Eagles shot better in the second, hitting 10-of-22 from the field, but UMBC trumped that mark, by knocking down over fifty percent of its attempts, nearly pulling away for good before AU's late run and Gardner's heroics.
American built a six-point cushion in OT, but six-straight free throws by the Retrievers tied up the game with 14 seconds left in the extra stanza. Reed, who had just checked in off the bench came up with the game-winner however, hitting the lay-in with a single tick left on the clock.
Junior forward Kyle Kager registered his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds while senior center Tony Wroblicky grabbed a game-high 12 boards. Junior John Schoof drilled four 3-pointerd and added 15 points with three steals.
The Eagles tip-off a four game road trip next week, starting in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday, November 20, at 7:30 p.m., when AU faces nationally-ranked Ohio State.