Eagles record first home win, top Holy Cross 58-45
Sixteen points from Jesse Reed and stingy defense help the Eagles win their fourth straight game.
The AU Eagles got their fourth straight win on head coach Mike Brennan bobblehead night, beating the College of the Holy Cross 58-45 on Monday night. The Eagles came into Monday’s game on the heels of a three-game win streak after losing their previous 11 games.
The game started slowly, as the two lowest-scoring teams in the Patriot League could not find their footing offensively. The Eagles were doing an effective job switching and rotating, forcing seven Holy Cross turnovers in the first half. Despite their defensive efforts, AU could not find their rhythm offensively, with missed layups aplenty.
It looked as if the Eagles were going to hold Holy Cross to single digit scoring before the halftime buzzer sounded. However, a 7-2 run from the Crusaders to close out the half made sure that wouldn’t happen, and the Eagles found themselves up by only one going into the half. Both teams shot 7-for-24 (29 percent) from the floor.
After a rough first half for both offenses, AU and Holy Cross started to hit shots in the second half. AU opened up a ten point lead six minutes into the second half, sparked by a charge taken by senior guard Jesse Reed along with freshman center Andrija Matic’s activity in the paint.
Holy Cross came right back with an 11-0 run of their own, going up by one -- it’s first lead of the game. The Crusaders ramped up their defense, pressuring AU’s ball handlers and applying a 2-1-2 press after made baskets.
Reed and freshman guard Delante Jones responded to the Crusaders’ run, hitting back to back threes to bring the lead back up to five, and the Eagles controlled the game from that point forward. AU’s three point shooting came alive in the second half, and they shot 5-for-11 from beyond the arc after shooting 0-for-7 in the first half.
“Coach Brennan is always telling us other teams are going to make runs, and it’s about how we respond,”senior forward Marko Vasic said. “It’s about how to start scoring again, about getting the lead back.”
Even though the Eagles are in the midst of a four game winning streak, head coach Mike Brennan did not show much emotion after the win.
“[The players] keep working,” Brennan said. “It’s just about getting better at all the little things, and giving us a chance to win.”
Reed, who recorded 16 points, five rebounds and four assists, led the Eagles. Matic also served as a major factor in AU victory, scoring 11 points and grabbing four rebounds -- three of them on the offensive end -- along with two assists and a block in 20 minutes of play. The Crusaders were paced by guard Cullen Hamilton, who scored 18 points (6-for-11) from the floor.
The win brings the Eagles to 6-15 on the season and 4-6 in Patriot League play, good for 7th in the Patriot League. AU hosts league leaders Bucknell in their next game on Wednesday.
“I think we’re starting to come together as a team,” Reed said. “We’re all figuring out how hard it is to win league games.”