Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, December 10, 2018

AU men’s basketball falls to Wagner after a late surge by Seahawks

Wagner took the lead in the game’s final three minutes

AU men’s basketball falls to Wagner after a late surge by Seahawks

Sophomore Sam Iorio goes up the court in a Nov. 16, 2018 game against University of New Hampshire.

In a neck-and-neck game, the AU men’s basketball team earned their first home loss of the season, falling to Wagner 64-58 on Friday in Bender Arena.

Junior guard Sa’eed Nelson put up 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists on 6 of 10 shooting from the field in the loss. Romone Saunders scored 17 points and added seven rebounds and three assists for Wagner.

In his return to Bender, former Eagle Lonnie Rivera never left the Seahawks’ bench. The Eagles shot 20-30 from the free-throw line, compared to the Seahawks’ 19-22.

AU (4-2) finished the first half on a 7-0 run, entering the locker room with a 27-20 lead. In the second half, AU widened the gap, going up by as many as 9 points when they led 42-33. But the Seahawks kept fighting back, chipping away at the lead over the last eight minutes of the game.

The Eagles had not trailed since the opening minutes of the game until Wagner’s Nigel Jackson sank a 3-pointer with three minutes remaining to put his team up 54-51. The Seahawks closed the game out on a 10-4 run.

While his team came up short, Eagle’s head coach Mike Brennan commended Nelson for his growth since last season.

“He’s been a monster in every game so far,” Brennan said. “He had to lead a team that was very difficult to lead in the first two years. Now, he understands what goes into winning and he is making so many plays all over the place and trying to get his teammates involved as much as he can. He has improved in every way.”

Brennan acknowledged that the Eagles’ offense “sputtered” in the second half against a tough Wagner defense.

“[Wagner] had a very good defensive team,” Brennan said. “We had a couple shots down the stretch where you have to make them to win a game like this, and we didn’t.”

With regards to adjustments made by his team coming out of halftime, Brennan said he was satisfied with the way his defense played, and that it was on the offensive end where his team struggled.

“We’re not going to hold a team to 28 percent shooting for a full game, but I thought we came out and played well defensively,” he said.

Moving forward, Brennan wants his team to work on “trusting each other for longer periods of time” and “knowing our offense a little better.” The team will host St. Francis University (3-4) on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Bender.

“We need this day of rest,” Brennan said ahead of the matchup. “We’ve had three games in six days, and then two hard days of practice … [We’re] getting better at our offense for a very good offensive team.”

mhashash@theeagleonline.com


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