Feb. 28, 2009
Easton, Pa. -
The American University men's basketball team defeated Lafayette in overtime Saturday afternoon, 75-68, closing out the regular season in dramatic fashion. Garrison Carr scored 11 of his game-high 23 points in the extra frame with three three-pointers to lead the Eagles to the victory. The win closes out American's regular season with a 21-7 overall record and 13-1 mark in Patriot League play.
American took a 5-0 lead to open the game following a Brian Gilmore three-point play but Lafayette answered right back with seven straight points of their own to take a 7-5 lead. Lafayette's lead reached as many as four points, 12-8, with 13:27 remaining in the half before the Eagles regained a 13-12 advantage with a Stephen Lumpkins lay-in and Gilmore three. AU extended the score to 16-12 on a Garrison Carr three but with 6:14 to play held only a one point lead, 20-19.
Bryce Simon began a 7-0 run for the Eagles with a three-pointer to push AU's lead to 27-19 with just under three minutes to go. The Leopards responded however with five straight points scored by Jim Mower and cut their deficit to three, 27-24. AU would get the final bucket of the half though as Derrick Mercer found Jordan Nichols off a drive for an easy lay-in to move the score to 29-24 heading into the break.
AU held a 23-14 advantage over Lafayette on the boards in the first half and outshot the Leopards 40.7 percent (11-27) to 34.6 (9-26). Carr totaled eight points in the first frame with two three-pointers and three assists while Nichols led the team in rebounds with seven and chipped in four points.
American extended its lead to 10 points, 44-34, after the half before a 7-1 run by Lafayette cut the score to 45-41 with just under 12 minutes to play. Five straight points scored by Nick Hendra
ended the Leopards run and helped to push AU's lead back to double-digits, 52-41.
An 8-0 Lafayette run which featured back-to-back baskets scored by Jared Mintz quickly closed the Eagles lead to just three, 54-51, with 5:32 remaining. American scored five unanswered points on a Carr three-pointer and Hendra bucket on consecutive possessions to get the lead back to eight, 59-51, but a 9-1 run by the Leopards tied the score at 60 with just 0:28 on the clock. AU held the ball for a final shot but a layup attempt by Mercer was no good, sending the game into overtime.
The Eagles opened the extra frame with a three from Carr to take a 63-60 lead. After two free-throws from Michael Gruner made the score 63-62 Carr responded with a second three-pointer for a 66-62 advantage with 2:34 remaining. A third three by Carr with 1:37 on the clock pushed the score to 69-64 but with 0:42 left Andrew Brown sank two free-throws to close the score to 69-66. On American's ensuing possession however Gilmore was able to break the press with the help of a screen from Nichols for an uncontested lay-in, sealing the victory. Carr added two free-throws before the final horn as AU earned the 75-68 win.
Carr finished the afternoon with a game-high 23 points, including 11 in overtime, four rebounds and three assists. Carr connected on six three-pointers bringing his career total to 283 and moving him into third place all-time in the PL. Mercer added 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds in the victory while Gilmore and Hendra each chipped in 11 points.
The Eagles finished the game shooting 46.3 percent (25-54) from the field while holding Lafayette to 34.5 percent (20-58) shooting. American also outdid the Leopards on the glass, pulling down 43 rebounds to Lafayette's 31.
American extended its season-best winning streak to 10 games with the win and has won 16 of its last 17. The Eagles had entered the game tied for the fourth longest winning streak in the country. AU also improved to 11-6 on the road with the victory and is the first team in program history to record 11 road wins.
American will begin play in the 2009 Patriot League Tournament this Wednesday, March 4, at 7:30 p.m. in Bender Arena. AU enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed after clinching its second-consecutive PL Regular Season Championship with a 13-1 record and the team's fourth overall regular season title in eight years as a member of the conference. The Eagles opponent will be determined based on results from later today. Tickets to AU's PL Tournament Quarterfinal game are on-sale now and can be purchased online by cliking here or by calling (202) 885-TIXX.