Senior guard Garrison Carr’s game-high 25 points and Derrick Mercer’s career-high 12 assists combined to lead the AU men’s basketball team to a strong 69-55 victory over the Bucknell University Bison Wednesday night. The team’s fifth straight win improves their record to 10-6 and a perfect 2-0 in Patriot League play.
The two teams traded baskets back and forth in the opening minutes of play as each team tried to establish an offensive rhythm.
With the Eagles clinging to a slim two-point lead at 14-12 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half, Mercer hit a jumper to put AU up by four, starting a 14-5 run that extended the lead to 13, 30-17.
Yet as key as Mercer was scoring the basketball, he was more valuable passing it off to his teammates, racking up ten assists in the first-half alone to help the Eagles take a 40-24 lead into halftime.
Mercer had another excellent game, according to AU head coach Jeff Jones.
“[Mercer] found open guys who then knocked down their open shots,” he said.
As strong as AU played in the opening half of the game, the Eagles struggled mightily in the second half, fighting to hold off the Bison and maintain control of the game.
Carr hit his third three-pointer of the game with seven minutes to go in the game, extending the Eagles’ lead to a game-high 23 points. This would be the last field goal that the team would hit for the rest of the match.
Poor free-throw shooting by the Eagles, hitting only 17 of 35 from the line in the second half, combined with Bucknell’s ability to hit shots down the stretch shrunk the lead to only 12, 62-50, with 1:07 remaining.
However, Carr was able to ice the game by scoring on six of his final eight shots from the free-throw line to give the Eagles the eventual 69-55 victory.
Despite the win, Jones and the players were left unsatisfied by their effort in the second half of the game.
Carr mentioned the team’s poor free-throw shooting.
“I have never seen any of my teammates do that before,” he said. “We really need to come out and finish the game, play the entire 40 minutes.”
The Eagles will look to continue their undefeated league play to three consecutive league games this Saturday when they face off against Colgate University. The match begins at 7:30 p.m.