Eagles Can't Overcome First Half Struggles Against BU, 61-53

Eagles Can't Overcome First Half Struggles Against BU, 61-53

WASHINGTON – The American University men's basketball team did its best to overcome a tough first half against BU, cutting a 14-point deficit to five midway through the second, but could not breakthrough against a strong Terrier squad, falling 61-53.

It was a tale of two halves for American as foul trouble, cold shooting and injury in the first half put the Eagles in 12-point hole at the break. AU was held to just 2-of-15 shooting from beyond the arc in the initial stanza.

Senior point guard Pee Wee Gardner, who leads the nation in minutes played per game, was held to just four at the half. Gardner finished the game with eight points, five rebounds and two assists in a season-low 25 minutes.

In addition to going 6-of-25 from the field in the first 20, AU lost starting center Kevin Panzer to injury just seven minutes into the contest and was forced to play "small ball" for the duration, playing without anyone taller than 6-foot-5 on the court.

Despite Boston's size advantage, American pulled down 10 offensive boards and improved from 3-point range in the second half, going 5-of-11 from distance. BU made up for it in the paint, outscoring AU, 32-20, down low. The Terriers also attempted 10 more free throws, converting down the stretch for the win.

"BU is a good team; strong, talented a large up front," said head coach Mike Brennan. "I thought we came back and played well in the second but they were able to make more plays down the stretch to come out with the win."

Junior guard Jesse Reed scored 14 of game-high 17 points in the second half, overcoming a slow start with two 3-pointers, four free throws and three rebounds in the second half.

Sophomore Jalen Rhea played one his best career games for AU, playing a personal-best 29 minutes; 17 more than his previous high. Rhea scored a season high 12 points, grabbing a career-high five rebounds and providing a spark off the bench for Coach Brennan.

Charlie Jones played a strong game, playing the center position for much of the contest, despite fiving up as much as six inches in the post. Jones finished with five points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal in a complete game effort.

American's second-half surge was not enough however as BU shot 48 percent from the field while grabbing 31 rebounds.

Cedric Hankerson led three Terrier scorers in double-digit points, netting 14. After setting a program record with nine steals in his last game against AU, Hankerson was held without a steal.