The American men's basketball team got back on the winning track Sunday afternoon in Princess Anne, Md., downing Maryland-Eastern Shore, 71-58. Three Eagles each scored 15 points as a balanced attack and staunch defense on the perimeter gave AU a win in its nonconference finale and final game of 2013.
The Eagles (4-7) shot over 55 percent from the field including a 47.1 percent mark from long range, while holding UMES (2-8) to just 16-of-51 attempts from the floor and only two 3-pointers on 15 trys.
"It was a team effort today. With four players in double-figure scoring and some early foul trouble, we really had to play a team game to be successful," said head coach Mike Brennan. "The goal is to get better every day and we showed we are doing that. We are going to need all our guys to step up an continue to play well as we head into conference play."
AU spread the wealth with seven players recording at least one assist in addition to four Eagles in double-digit scoring. Junior Kyle Kager set a career high with 15 points and was joined at the game-high total by junior John Schoof and sophomore Jesse Reed, who each hit three 3-pointers. Senior center Tony Wroblicky was American's fourth double-digit scorer, hitting 5-of-7 shots including 2-of-3 from the line for 12 points.
The Hawks had trouble with the AU's size down low and length on the perimeter all afternoon, failing to record a 3-pointer in the second half. UMES was able to get to the line however, hitting 24-of-32 attempts from the charity stripe. Leading scorers Troy Snyder and KyRee Jones were held to just 5-of-21 shots from the field, but knocked down 12-of-16 from the line.
American looked refreshed after its week-long layoff, jumping out to an early 15-4 lead thanks large in part to its long range shooting. Reed got it going with a straight-away 3-pointer, while Schoof rose and fired next. Reed was not be outdone however, netting the next attempt from deep, actually hitting on his first three shots, all from 3-point range.
The Eagles hit 7-of-11 attempts from deep in the first half for 12-point lead, 39-27. The advantage would have been much larger if not for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the Hawks at the end of the frame as well as hitting 13-of-17 shots from the free throw line. AU held Eastern Shore to just 24 percent shooting in the initial stanza.
With their backs against the wall, facing a 16-point deficit through the first five minutes of the second, the Hawks battled back as a near four-minute scoreless drought by AU brought UMES to within seven of the Eagles with just under five minutes left, but AU went on a 10-2 run to push the lead back to 15.
It was AU's final tuneup before beginning Patriot League play in the New Year, traveling to defending conference champion Bucknell on January 2.