A stifling AU defense combined with a game-high 14 points from sophomore guard Nick Hendra helped lead the Eagles to a commanding 58-34 victory over the U.S. Military Academy Black Knights Wednesday night. The win was the third in a row for AU, which improved its overall record to 15-7 and league record to a first-place tie at 6-1.
The 34 points allowed was the fewest the Eagles have allowed all season - 12 fewer than their previous low of 46 during their match against St. Francis University Nov. 17. The Eagles also limited the Black Knights to 31.8 percent shooting on the night, while AU shot 48 percent from the floor themselves.
“We came out, we were definitely ready to play,” AU head coach Jeff Jones said. “It was one of those games where things just seemed to go right for us.”
Although Army took a quick 5-4 lead three minutes into the first half, a three-pointer from senior guard Derrick Mercer put the Eagles up 7-5, a lead that they would not relinquish throughout the rest of the game.
A bucket by senior forward Jordan Nichols at the 10:16 mark put the Eagles up by double digits at 17-7 before pushing the lead to 14, their largest of the first half on a jumper by Hendra at 4:05 to put AU up 27-13.
Hendra’s back-to-back points would push the lead up to 31-17 as the teams headed into the locker room.
As well as the Eagles played in the first half, they played even stronger in the second period.
Carr hit back-to-back three-pointers in the first four minutes of play, part of a 10-2 Eagle run to put the Eagles up by 24 at 43-19.
Hendra added another three-pointer at the 5:28 mark to put AU up by 26 - their largest lead of the game, at 56-30.
In the closing minutes of the game, the Eagles were able to get in bench players for a few minutes of play after building up such a large lead. Junior guard Matthew Wilson and freshmen Riley Grafft, Joe Hill, Simon McCormack and Mike Technow were all able to play for the first time in three games.
“Every player wants to play, to get a chance to play,” Jones said. “It is nice to get them in the game and allowed us to rest Garrison.”
Mercer said it is also important to get his teammates in the game in order to get them experience for future games later in the season.
“If there is an opportunity to get guys in so that if there is foul trouble, it is important that they can get in there,” he said.
The Eagles look to continue their winning ways when they face off against Lehigh University at 7 p.m. Saturday. The game will be shown on local TV station MASN.