PHILADELPHIA – The American University men's basketball team opened the 2014-15 season on Friday night at the Liacouras Center, taking on Temple in the Regional Round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Despite an off-shooting night, the Eagles rallied to erase a 12-point deficit and cut it to a two-point Owl lead with 14 seconds to play. Temple was able to hold AU's potential game-tying shot off the mark however, claiming a 40-37 win.
The second half surge was foiled at the buzzer as Temple denied Darius "Pee Wee" Gardner's desperation three-point attempt at the buzzer.
American was down by 11, 39-28, with 3:24 to play, but came back with a 9-0 run keyed by three perfectly executed layups and a straight-away 3-pointer by senior co-captain John Schoof.
"I thought the guys responded after halftime. We need to figure out which group is going to help us win and that is going to change each night," said head coach Mike Brennan.
Sophomore sparkplug Charlie Jones came off the bench for the Eagles and played 31 minutes, scoring six points on 2-of-2 shooting with four rebounds and a block.
His energy was infectious and transitioned to the defensive end where AU was able to overcome a 39-25 rebounding advantage by Temple to hold the Owls to 22.9 percent shooting (11-of-46), including a 5-of-24 mark in the second half.
"Our guys understand what we're trying to do defensively and did well to execute in the zone," said Brennan.
Gardner led the way with three steals, while senior Kevin Panzer blocked three shots in his American University debut. Panzer also added six points, eight rebounds and four helpers as the Eagles assisted on 10-of-12 made baskets.
"We emphasize sharing the ball. Our guys believe in it and everybody has faith in each other," stated Brennan.
The Eagles were able to overcome a slow start and tough-shooting first half, scoring only 11 points while making just 4-of-20 attempts from the field.
American only connected on 3-of-23 from beyond the arc, but AU's defensive effort, that included six steals and five blocks, kept the Eagles in game until the final buzzer.
Sophomore Mark Williams, who scored 11 points with two 3-pointers and nine rebounds, led the way for Temple.
American will look to pick up its first win of the season at its home opener on Monday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. It will be a doubleheader day with the women's team playing George Washington prior to the men's tip.
A limited number of premium location, sideline tickets to the home opener are still available and can be purchased by clicking here. The first 2,000 fans will receive a FREE commemorative Patriot League Championship souvenir mini banner courtesy of GEICO.