Last we saw of men’s basketball, Brian Gilmore hit the clinching free throw in front of television cameras and an electric crowd at Bender Arena to seal a win over Jacksonville University. Since then, the Eagles have embarked on a school record seven-game road trip, including an historic win at College Park against the University of Maryland, AU’s first against the Terrapins in 80 years.
The trip began Dec. 19 when AU lost to the Dayton Flyers, 63-56. In that same game, junior guard Garrison Carr scored a career-high of 26 points.
The Eagles’ next game turned into one of the most memorable victories in recent memory, as the Eagles defeated the Terrapins of the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference 67-59 on Dec. 22. AU had an answer for every Terrapin run as junior guard Derrick Mercer led the Eagles with 18 points, while junior forward Bryce Simon added 17 points.
Unfortunately, the Eagles couldn’t carry their momentum and lost by 26 to Georgetown Dec. 29. Although AU held the lead early, stretching it to as much as six points in the first seven minutes, seventh-ranked Georgetown proved too much to handle as DaJuan Summers led Georgetown with 16 points while Mercer led all scorers with 17 points.
The losing streak continued as the calendar turned to 2008. The Eagles fell to Brown University 68-55 on Jan. 4. AU dug itself an early hole, falling behind by as much as 13 points in the first half and could never recover. Senior forward Travis Lay led the Eagles with 13 points in the loss.
Nevertheless, the Eagles recovered in their final non-conference game of the season, defeating Columbia University 69-56 on Jan. 6. The Eagles built an early lead, shooting 57 percent from the field in the first half while holding Columbia to just 26 percent shooting in first half. Columbia never threatened in the second half as AU cruised. Garrison Carr led all scorers with 24 points, while Bryce Simon grabbed a career-high nine rebounds.
AU opened up its conference slate, defeating Lehigh 71-54 Saturday. The Eagles continued their hot shooting and strong defense, making 46 percent of their shots and 61 percent from the three-point range, while holding the Mountain Hawks to just 35 percent shooting. The Eagles opened up a 10-point lead and never looked back as Carr led all scorers with 26 points, while Mercer added 14 points.
The Eagles are 1-0 in the Patriot League and 9-7 overall on the year. They open their home conference schedule this Saturday at 2 p.m. against Colgate.