The 82-year-old men’s basketball team Tuesday night reached an impressive milestone when it notched its 1,000th win after defeating local rival Howard University, 66-54.
The Eagles were slow off the opening tip, allowing Howard to go on a 7-to-1 run in the first two minutes of the game. It looked like it would be a long night for the Eagle defense, as Howard’s athleticism overpowered the Eagles’ fundamentals.
Midway through the first half, the Eagles made a run. Thanks in part to a smaller, quicker lineup, crisp ball movement and Howard’s tendency to foul as AU attacked the rim, the Eagles came back and tied the game with a Derrick Mercer lay-up with 6:30 left to play in the first half.
The Eagles’ ability to get fouled and then make their foul shots sealed the fate of the Bison’s first-half play. While AU shot 12 out of 16 from the foul line, Howard was zero for zero. The Eagles also found help from guard Garrison Carr’s 11 first-half points and forward Brian Gilmore’s six points from attacking the rim.
The Eagles’ offense quickly pulled away from the Bison, and everything began to click. By the end of the first half, the Eagles led 34-30.
AU continued its stellar play into the second half, continuing to strengthen and build the lead by playing tough basketball.
Eagle fans went wild as Frank Borden dove across the floor in attempt to retrieve the basketball after he tipped it out of his opponent’s hands.
Even Howard guard Jeron Smith’s gravity-defying dunk midway through the second half could not stop the Eagles’ momentum.
The final two minutes of play were a bit slower and sloppier with several fundamental mistakes such as unneeded fouls and numerous turnovers. The Eagles kept control of floor for the win, but the team was disappointed with its sloppy play toward the end of the game.
“We’re a little disappointed with how we played at the end of the game, but we’re happy with the win,” said Carr, who finished the game with 17 points.
Gilmore and Jordan Nichols finished the game with 11 points, while Bryce Simon finished with 10 and Mercer with nine.
Carr, focused on winning the game and improving his team’s season record, did not know he was playing in the game that was potentially AU’s 1,000th win.
“It’s a pretty good feeling,” he said after learning the information. “I am just happy to be a part of the experience.”
For now, according to Carr, the Eagles need to stay mentally sharp and ready for the next game on Friday in Bender Arena against Jacksonville. The team now holds a 5-4 record on the season and a 1000-947 record in school’s history.