Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, April 22, 2018

Men’s Basketball 14th loss of the season highlights continued offensive struggles

The Eagles continue to flounder in the second half, losing 61-50 to BU

Men’s Basketball 14th loss of the season highlights continued offensive struggles

Andrija Matic goes for a layup in the second half of the game against Boston. 

The Eagles, plagued by unproductive offense and inexperienced defense, suffered their 14th loss of the season last night at the hands of Boston University. After a close-scoring first half, AU ultimately ran dry in the second half, losing 61-50 to its Patriot League foe.

“It's more of the same. We don’t have enough offensively and defensively to win games,” head coach Mike Brennan said. “Each team presents something new, it sort of stunts us a little bit”.

AU finished the first half shooting 47.6 percent but only managed 25 percent in the second half. The Eagles rank last in points scored per game in the country out of 351 NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams. With their ninth loss in a row, the Eagles are having their worst season since joining the Patriot League in the 2001-02 season.

The Eagles played with a short bench last night as the team announced before the game that four players had been suspended for violating team rules. Freshman guards Kevin Brown, Delante Jones and Lonnie Rivera along with sophomore center Gabe Brown sat out the entire game, dressed in team polos and khakis on the bench serving their suspension. Brennan did not comment on the exact team violation but did state all players will be back for next game. Jones and Rivera have played significant minutes this season, averaging 30.3 minutes per game and 10.6 minutes per game respectively. Jones ranks second on the team in minutes per game and third in points per game with 8.6 points per game.

In the first half, the Eagles spread out their scoring amongst five players, all in single digits. Junior guard Jalen Rhea, who was inserted into the starting lineup for the suspended Jones, scored six points in 15 minutes off a pair of three-pointers. AU spread the floor with twelve overall three-point attempts but lacked an inside presence, scoring only six points in the paint. The Eagles collected eight fouls in the first twenty minutes of play, sending the Terriers to the free throw line nine times. BU junior guard Eric Fanning earned five of his 12 first half points at the free throw line.

The Eagles held a six point lead with nine minutes to go in the first half, but by the time the halftime buzzer rang, AU faced a five point deficit, 32-27.

AU began the second half sluggishly with a two minute scoring drought. BU continued to gain momentum, moving the score to 44-33 seven minutes into the second half. The quickened pace of play rattled the inexperienced Eagles into forced shots and sloppy turnovers.

With five minutes left in the game, the Eagles pulled within eight points, but the Terriers quickly closed the door on a comeback with a three-pointer and a layup within 45 seconds. The Terriers spread their lead to 61-50 to end the game.

Senior guard Jesse Reed recorded the worst offensive game of his college career, only scoring one point through 39 minutes until he threw in a three-point basketball to beat the buzzer. Reed only attempted five shots, four being from being the arc, because of BU’s smothering defense.

Freshman guard James Washington led all scorers with 15 points (5-for-12), including four three-pointers, and collected three rebounds.

“I want to give him [James Washington] experience, I think he’s going to be really good,” Brennan said. “I like having him out there even though he is struggling, it’s not always perfect. I like the fact that he is getting these minutes.”

Forward and fellow freshman Andrija Matic also impressed, scoring 10 points in 23 minutes. Matic impressively matched up with BU’s more experienced big men.

“I like what Andrija does and what he brings to the table. That was sort of his first prolonged minutes in a while, so he obviously got tired out there, but I like what he does,” Brennan said. “His feel for the game, his instincts, skill level, all that stuff. He’s going to get better. I’m excited about Andrija.”

When asked what the team should change Brennan put it simply, “Keep getting better. Score more points and defend better. That's the change”.

jreyes@theeagleonline.com


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