It was another Patriot League battle on Saturday afternoon inside Bender Arena. American University men's basketball nearly erased a 15-point deficit against Colgate, but Darius "Pee Wee" Gardner's halfcourt heave at the buzzer back-rimmed as the Raiders escaped D.C. with a 63-60 victory.
Colgate was locked in offensively for the first 30 minutes of the game, building a 49-34 lead at 12:14 in the second half. American used a strong run in the next seven minutes however, closing to within four at 55-49.
Despite the Eagles' comeback which saw AU within four or closer five times in the final five minutes, the Raiders were able to stand up defensively and knock down clutch free throws, earning their first ever win inside Bender Arena.
"Colgate is a very talented offensive team. They really showed that in the first half. We were able to find an answer for them towards the end of the game, but we built ourselves too big a hole," said head coach Mike Brennan. "The past two games really show how fragile winning is. It seems like every Patriot League game is a 63-60 battle, but the message stays the same: get better every day."
It was a close game in the early going, with neither team building more than a four-point advantage through the first 11 minutes. Colgate was able to string a few together in the closing minutes and looked to take a nine-point advantage into the break, but Gardner's coast-to-coast lay-in with 33 seconds left cut it to seven.
The Raiders continued to shoot well in the second, opening the frame on a 13-6 run. The Eagles did not back down however, clawing for points in the final 10 minutes to set up a furious final minute in D.C.
Senior center Tony Wroblicky laid one in and drew the foul for an And-1 with 1:02 to go as AU closed to within three, 58-55. Colgate was able to hit free throws to go back up by five, but Gardner answered with a layup and only 24 seconds remaining.
Again Colgate knocked down one of 1-and-1 situation, but on the next possession, junior guard John Schoof was fouled on a 3-pointer with just three ticks left on the clock.
The third-year sharpshooter calmly knocked down all three attempts as AU was just a point away from tying up the game. Forced to foul, Colgate was able to knock down both with 2.7 seconds left. The Eagles were an inch away from sending the game to overtime as Gardner's halfcourt shot found the back iron.
Gardner finished the day with 13 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals in a complete game performance. Wroblicky double-doubled with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He also swatted three shots in the game, tying the all-time record for blocks in the AU history book with 138.
Schoof and sophomore guard Jesse Reed tied for a team-high 15 points.
After a tough week on the hardwood which saw the Eagles fall for the first times in Patriot League play this season, AU welcomes Lehigh to Bender Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. A limited number of tickets still remain for this game and can be purchased by clicking here or calling 202-885-TIXX.