March 8, 2009
Washington, D.C. - Brian Gilmore's foul shot with 3.6 seconds remaining kept alive American's hopes to repeat as Patriot League Men's Basketball champion, as the No. 1 seed Eagles scored the final six points of the game to top No. 4 Army, 61-60, in a Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament semifinal contest on Sunday at Bender Arena.
The Eagles (23-7) will host the Patriot League Championship for the second straight year on Friday at 4:45 p.m. on ESPN2. American will face No. 2 seed Holy Cross, a 61-44 winner over No. 6 Colgate in Sunday's second semifinal.
American trailed, 60-55, with just over two minutes to go before rallying for the victory. Jordan Nichols hit a shot to cut the deficit to three with 2:04 left, and Gilmore knotted the score at 60 on a three-pointer with 43 seconds to go. Army's Josh Miller missed on the other end, and Derrick Mercer raced down the floor for the Eagles. Mercer's pass was broken up, but Gilmore collected the loose carom and was fouled while shooting to set up the game-winning free throw. Army's Cleveland Richard had a shot to give the Black Knights the win at the buzzer, but his attempt from half court came up short.
Army (11-19) held a 34-27 lead at halftime, and scored the first four points of the second half before American charged back with 10 straight points. American went up, 49-44, with 11 minutes to play, but Army took the 60-55 advantage with a 16-6 spurt.
With American's victory, the No. 1 seed has advanced to the Patriot League Championship in each of the 19 League Tournaments. The Eagles move on to their fifth Patriot League title contest in eight seasons as a League member. Gilmore led the Eagles with 19 points, while Garrison Carr also finished in double figures with 17. Patriot League Player of the Year Derrick Mercer dished out eight assists. The Eagles made more than 50 percent of their shots in the second half to score the comeback win.
Army was trying to become the lowest-ever seed to advance to the League title contest, and also attempting to make its first Patriot League Championship appearance in its fifth semifinal game. Richard led Army with 16 points, while Josh Miller tallied 15. The Black Knights made 60 percent of their shots in the first half, but hit only 35.7 percent in the second half.
American won its 12th consecutive game, and also extended its home winning streak to 11 games. The Eagles will enter the Patriot League Championship with a 16-game home winning streak against League teams.