The American University men's basketball team started the second half of the Patriot League schedule with a win, downing Holy Cross, 63-57, to remain unbeaten in conference play this season. The Eagles are now 10-0 in the league, extending their current win streak to 11 games.
"We struggled offensively today, but were able to make some big plays down the stretch," said head coach Mike Brennan. "It's good to keep our streak going, but we realize that we have a lot to work on. Our goal continues to be getting better every day. Our players know that and it has been a big reason for our success."
For the first time in several games, AU did not shoot well from 3-point range, hitting only 3-of-7 attempts from deep, but the Eagles were able to do damage in the paint as senior center Tony Wroblicky scored a game-high 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
In a tightly-contested game featuring four lead changes and seven ties, it was clutch plays down the stretch which made the difference.
Late in the game, sophomore guard Jesse Reed used a Wroblicky high screen to free himself for a layup which gave American a 57-53 lead with 1:08 left to play. Holy Cross looked to answer, but junior point guard Darius "Pee Wee" Gardner came up with a steal, leading to a fast break layup which put American up by six with 33 seconds to go.
It was Gardner again in the closing seconds as he made two free throws while junior guard John Schoof hit two more to secure the win for the Eagles.
American was strong defensively on Holy Cross big man Dave Dudzinski -- the leading scorer for Holy Cross at 15.6 points per game – who had his lowest total of the season with six points.
AU's biggest advantage of the game came on the capitalization of Holy Cross mistakes as American totaled 17 points off Crusader turnovers. The Eagles free throw shooting, especially down the stretch, also made a difference. AU knocked down 13-of-16 from the charity stripe.
A game after going off for a career high 28 points, Reed finished with 13, as he streak of three consecutive 20 point games came to end. Though the streak is done, it was American's well rounded effort that made up for it as all five Eagle starters finished in double digit points.
Gardner Tallied 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting with three assists and three steals, while Schoof added 10 with one of two AU 3-pointers, along with Reed. Junior Kyle Kager totaled 10 points in 17 minutes.
American is back in action next Wednesday, Feb. 5, when the Eagles travel to nearby Baltimore, in a rematch against the Loyola Greyhounds at 7 p.m.
Your undefeated Eagles return to Bender Arena on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m., when American hosts the Colgate Raiders. Tickets are still available for this game and can be purchased by clicking here.