Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Columbia overcomes sluggish start to defeat men’s basketball, 54-42

The theme of the AU men’s basketball team so far this season was on full display during a 54-42 loss against Columbia Dec. 9 at Bender Arena.

“If you could’ve sat in on a lot of our film sessions, a lot of our practices [and] a lot of our meetings, you would hear over and over just the theme of we have to finish,” AU head coach Jeff Jones said. “Have to finish a game, have to finish a possession, have to finish the half.”

Both teams developed an allergy to scoring in the first half. Columbia (5-4) started the game out 0-15 from the floor. The Eagles (4-6) could’ve used Columbia’s almost 10-minute scoring drought to mount a formidable lead, but they didn’t.

“I could cite plenty of opportunities of where, in different situations, we’re doing good things and we just don’t finish,” Jones said. “… I think as much as anything, that’s a mentality of finishing a possession at either end of the floor.”

The Eagles inability to take advantage of Columbia’s poor shooting came back to bite them. The Lions took a 20-16 lead before the half and never looked back.

A big reason for Columbia’s success was its guard play. Grant Mullins and Brian Barbour scored 20 and 19 points, respectively, while playing 37 minutes apiece.

“When you look at the stat sheet and see that their guards combined for 39 points, 5 assists and zero turnovers … there’s a lot that goes into the game,” Jones said. “But that’s really where the difference [was] for us.”

AU’s Jesse Reed and Marko Vasic came in and slowed the Lion guards late in the second half, but it was too late. Their play was good enough to make Jones consider more minutes for the freshmen going forward.

“I think it’s safe to say we’re gonna need to change some things around,” Jones said. “If those young guys can play that hard, we’re gonna have to live with some of the mistakes, but I think with [Reed] and [Vasic] in particular, we’re gonna have to find a way to get them in there so they can get experience.”

Double OT thriller

The Eagles were able to finish earlier in the week at Maryland-Baltimore County Dec. 6. Behind 38 combined points from guards Daniel Munoz and John Schoof, AU prevailed 73-70 in double overtime.

Looking ahead

The Eagles will have more than a week off between games, as they will next play at Hampton Dec. 18.

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