For just the second time in American University's 13-year history in the Patriot League, the Eagles have reached 12 conference victories, holding off Army on Saturday afternoon inside Bender Arena, 58-54.
Dating back to AU basketball's inception in 1926, the Eagles have only reached 12 conference wins in five seasons. It is the first time to 12 league wins since American's 2009 NCAA Tournament team went 13-1 in Patriot League play. The other three seasons came as members of the Mason-Dixon Conference in 1950, 1952 and 1958.
The Eagles (16-11, 12-4 PL) got back on the winning track against Army (13-14, 9-7 PL), as the American offense found its groove, hitting half of its attempts from the field (21-of-42). The AU defense also limited to the Black Knights to a 36.2 percent clip, holding West Point to only five made field goals in the first half.
Army scored the first two baskets of the game, but AU used a 19-2 run to take control early. The Eagles increased its lead to as large as 23 at 47-25 in the second half, but the Black Knights used a run of their own to close within three in the final minute.
American had an answer for the late Army run however, as Darius "Pee Wee" Gardner knocked down two free throws before senior Tony Wroblicky came up with a block on the West Point's next possession, leading to a Jesse Reed lay-in to ice the game with five seconds left.
"Army is a very good offensive team and they showed that in the second half," said head coach Mike Brennan. "We played better both offensively and defensively than we had in the past two games, but still have some things we will improve on."
It was all AU in the first half as Reed scored nine of his game-high 21 points, hitting 4-of-4 from the field. The sophomore guard missed just one shot all day, finishing 9-of-10 from the field with two three pointers, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.
The Eagles needed every one of Reed's points however as midway through the second half, the Army offense came alive.
With AU leading 47-24 at 12:40 in the second, the Black Knights surged back into the contest to close within a single possession at 54-51 and 1:18 left in the contest.
The Eagles were able to make the key plays down the stretch though to assure the victory.
Wroblicky finished the game with a double-double scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while grabbing 12 boards. The big man also filled the stat sheet, knocking down 4-of-5 from the line with three assists, two blocks and three steals.
American can clinch the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament with a Holy Cross loss or a victory in either of its two remaining regular season games.
Next up, the Eagles travel to Annapolis, Md., to take on Navy on Wednesday, February 26 at 7 p.m.