WASHINGTON – The American University men's basketball team got a much needed win on Wednesday inside Bender Arena, using strong defense along with two season-best performances. Senior John Schoof scored a season-high 25 points to lead all players while junior Marko Vasic neared a triple-double in his second career start as American defeated Navy, 68-49.
Entering the game there was just two regular season contests left on the 2015 slate. Both AU and Navy stood at 7-9, in a three-way tie for sixth. With the win and other Patriot League results, American improves to the number five seed in the standings and can clinch a bye into the quarterfinals with a win on Sunday.
Schoof was just three points off his career-best performance, hitting 8-of-13 field goals with three 3-pointers and 6-of-7 free throws. His personal high in points also came against Midshipmen at Bender Arena, two years ago.
While Schoof provided the scoring, Vasic took care of the rest. The third-year forward made his second career and second-straight start, tying a career high with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He also added personal bests with eight rebounds and eight assists, approaching a triple-double in 38 minutes of action.
The Eagles held Navy to only 17 points in the first half and limited the Midshipmen to just 3-of-14 attempts from long range.
"I thought we played a good game both offensively and defensively. Navy is a good team that challenges you with their size and length, but we were able to work our sets and make some shots," said head coach Mike Brennan. "Tonight we did a good job of recognizing opportunities as they arose."
Navy outrebounded American, 30-24, but AU was able to attempt 10 more free throws, while hitting 56 percent of its shots including a 7-of-14 mark from 3-point range. The Eagles also assisted on 17 of its 22 made baskets while forcing 15 Midshipmen turnovers, registering eight steals.
American held a double-digit lead for much of the game, building a 10-point advantage at 23-13 on a Vasic jump shot and holding at least a double-figure laead until the 5:24 mark in the second. A Tilman Dunbar layup made it 51-43 as Navy closed to eight points.
The Eagles answered quickly however as free throws by Pee Wee Gardner got the double-digit lead back and sparked an 8-0 run for American.
Gardner, the Patriot League steals leader, added five more thefts to his season total, adding six points, three assists and two rebounds. Junior guard Jesse Reed chipped in 14 points with two 3-pointers and six free throws while four assists.
American closes out the regular season Saturday at noon against Patriot League-leading Bucknell as the Eagles celebrates the careers of four players on Senior Day.