The American University men's basketball team is heading to the 2014 Patriot League Championship after downing the No. 3 seeded Holy Cross Crusaders, 57-46, at Bender Arena on Saturday night. The No. 2 Eagles used a second half comeback, erasing a 10-point deficit, to advance to the conference title game for the third time in seven years.
AU moves on to face No. 1 seeded Boston University at Agganis Arena in Boston, Mass., on Wednesday, March 12, at 7:30 p.m., live on the CBS Sports Network.
American's (19-12, 13-5 PL) defense was key in its second-half surge, as AU went on a 20-2 run in a 13-minute span, starting four minutes after the break. The Eagles held Holy Cross (19-13, 12-6 PL) to 38.0 percent shooting, 28.0 in the second half, while scoring 20 points off Crusader miscues.
"The zone defense was big for us tonight," said head coach Mike Brennan. "We dug ourselves a hole in the early going, but were able to dig in and work our way out of it. Our intensity on the defensive end has been something we have really stressed the past few weeks and really showed tonight; specifically in the second half."
AU built a nine-point lead, 16-7, 10 minutes into the game, but Holy Cross used a 15-2 run to take a 22-18 lead and eventually take a six-point advantage, 28-22, into halftime.
The Crusaders kept its momentum going through the first four minutes of the second stanza, building its largest lead of the game at 39-29.
From then on it was all AU, as rookie Charlie Jones checked into the game and hit a 3-pointer which began American's game-changing streak. Jones not only hit the triple, but scoring the next layup and blocked a shot on the following possession.
"I said it earlier this season, but Charlie has been our 'energizer bunny' all season long," said junior point guard Darius "Pee Wee" Gardner. "He just comes in and is everywhere for us. We kind of built on that energy, especially on the defensive end."
After hitting nearly half their attempts in the first half (12-of-25, 48 percent), American held Holy Cross scoreless for a seven-minute span in the second.
The Eagles scored 16 of its 22 points off turnovers in the second half, while holding the Crusaders to only six points in the paint. Holy Cross senior Dave Dudzinski scored a game-high 22 points in the game, but had only seven in the second half, hitting just 2-of-9 attempts after the break.
Sophomore guard Jesse Reed scored a team-high 18 points with three 3-pointers, three rebounds and two steals. Gardner joined Reed in double-digits with 10 points, adding two triples, four boards, three assists and three steals.
While Jones' tenacity, intensity and spark off the bench may have been even more valuable than his stats, the rookie finished a perfect 2-of-2 from the field with a trey, four rebounds and two steals in 16 minutes.
Championship Game Ticket Information in AU Fan Block Seating Section
How to Order Tickets
Tickets to the 2014 Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship Game are now available. The Eagles will take on the Boston Terriers on Wednesday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m. from Agganis Arena in Boston, Massachusetts. Tickets are $22 for adults and $9 for youth, seniors and AU Students. To purchase your tickets within the AU fan seating block for the championship game, please follow the instructions below. All orders must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11th:
All fans interested in purchasing tickets should go to AUeagles.com/Tickets to submit their Championship Game ticket order and information.
Once received and processed, your order will be confirmed via email. All tickets will be available for pick up at WILL CALL at Agganis Arena on March 12, starting at 5 p.m.
American University Fan Bus to Boston University
Interest in a fan bus is being assessed at this time. A final decision will be made by Tuesday, March 11th at noon if sufficient interest is expressed. If the bus trip does occur, it will depart on Wednesday at 7:30 am from Bender Arena. The cost per person would be $20 roundtrip. Those who express interest will receive an email with further details regarding the trip once it is confirmed.