March 12, 2014
BOSTON, Mass. - American won with strong defense and good shooting all season, so it was fitting that the Eagles used that exact blueprint to roll to a 55-36 victory over Boston University in the Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship on Wednesday at Agganis Arena.
The Eagles (20-12), who were the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament, earn the League's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. Selections will be announced on Sunday at 6 p.m. on CBS. Top-seed Boston University (24-10) will head to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) after winning the Patriot League's regular-season crown with a 15-3 mark.
American led from start to finish in the decisive victory. The Eagles scored the first four points, and later went on an 8-0 run to build a 16-7 lead with 8:12 to play in the first half. Darius Gardner scored the team's last eight points of the period for a 24-16 lead at the break.
BU got within six early in the second half, but the Terriers would get no closer. American held the lead between seven and 12 points until closing the game with an 11-2 run in the final 3:34 to pull away for the 19-point win.
American held the Terriers to the lowest point total in Patriot League Championship game history, 10 points fewer than the previous mark of 46 that Colgate scored against the Eagles in 2008. The Eagles limited BU to 16-of-52 (30.8%) from the field and just 1-of-17 from three-point range in the game. American, which was picked ninth in the preseason, also became the first team to limit all three of its League Tournament opponents to 50 points or less.
The Eagles earn their third Patriot League title, and first since repeating in 2008 and 2009. They improve to 3-3 in the Patriot League Championship game, and earn their first road win in the Patriot League Tournament after eight previous defeats.
Gardner led the Eagles with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and dished out four assists, and helped force BU point guard Maurice Watson Jr. into seven turnovers. Gardner was named Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Tony Wroblicky joined Gardner in double figures with 15 points, and also made the All-Tournament Team for the Eagles along with sophomore guard Jesse Reed. American shot 19-of-34 (55.9%) from the field in the game.
Watson led the Terriers with 11 points, while Dom Morris added 10. Watson also dished out five assists to tie the Patriot League Tournament record with 30 in BU's three games.
Joining Wroblicky and Reed on the All-Tournament Team were Watson, Army's Kyle Wilson and Holy Cross' Dave Dudzinski.
For more, including the box score from the game, visit Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship Central
Additional notes from the Championship are included below.
*The No. 2 seed improved to 6-9 against the No. 1 in title contests.
*After six straight seasons where the No. 1 won, it is the second time in three years for the No. 2 to earn the title after Lehigh won at Bucknell in 2012.
*Road teams improved to 6-17 in the Patriot League Championship.
*American tied Lehigh and Navy for the third-most championships in League history with three, following Holy Cross (5) and Bucknell (4).
*American's Mike Brennan won the title in his first season on the job, becoming the first in League history to pull off that feat.
*It was the lowest scoring title game in League history, topping American's 52-46 win over Colgate in 2008.
*The teams combined for the fewest field goal attempts in any Patriot League Tournament game with 86 (American 34, BU 52).
*American's 34 field goal attempts were also the fewest in any League Tournament game.
*BU tied a Patriot League Tournament record with 50 assists, though the Terriers had only eight in the title game.
*American has won three straight Patriot League title games after losing its first three appearances from 2002-04.
*The Eagles earned their first road win in the Patriot League Tournament after eight defeats.
*Three schools (American, Lehigh, Bucknell) have combined for the last seven Patriot League titles, with four schools (Holy Cross) capturing the last 14 League titles since 2001.