Eagles Hold Off Saint Francis (Pa.) in Home Opener, 49-46

Eagles Hold Off Saint Francis (Pa.) in Home Opener, 49-46

WASHINGTON – The American University men's basketball team picked up its first win of the season in its home opener at Bender Arena in front of a live TV audience on Comcast SportsNet. The Eagles earned a hard-fought victory over a tough Saint Francis (Pa.) squad, 49-46, unveiling the 2014 Patriot Championship banner before the game.

Junior guard Jesse Reed, a Saltsburg, Pa., native led the scoring for AU with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-7 from distance. The third-year swingman is starting to make a habit of big performances against the Red Flash, dropping 20 points at SFU last season.

After a back-and-forth first period, American took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Darius "Pee Wee" Gardner early in the second half to go up 28-27. Although AU was unable to build more than a six-point advantage down the stretch, they were able to hold off every charge from Saint Francis.

"We knew tonight was going to be a tough battle. Almost like a league game.  Saint Francis is a very good team," said head coach Mike Brennan. "I was proud of the effort tonight and the guys were able to make the plays down the stretch to pull it out."

Several Eagles battled foul trouble throughout the game, including senior big man Kevin Panzer who only played 22 minutes. Junior center Zach Elcano and Reed also picked up early fouls in the first, missing time in the initial 20.

Senior John Schoof stepped up for the Eagles in the first and filled the void left by three starters, scoring 10 points to lead all players in the first frame. Schoof ended the game with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting with two 3-pointers, three rebounds and three assists in a complete game performance.

Reed was able to make up for his early absence however, making the most of his time in the second stanza, scoring 10 of his 18 points. He also added five rebounds in the contest.

Malik Harmon was the Saint Francis offense, scoring a game-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting with four triples. No other Red Flash player had more than seven.

American owned the edge on the boards, outrebounding SFU by 10, pulling down 30 off the glass, including six on the offensive end.

Next up, American continues play in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Louisiana Tech. The Eagles will play three games in three days against the host Bulldogs, Presbyterian and Morehead State.