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Friday, June 21, 2024
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Men's B-ball torpedoes Navy

Navy had no answer for AU senior guard Andres Rodriguez, who set a school and conference record with 19 assists Wednesday night. Nor did they have an answer for freshman guard Andre Ingram, who scored a career-high 27 points, including eight three pointers, in the same game.

In short, the Midshipmen had no chance against AU Men's Basketball, who rode Rodriguez and Ingram's brilliant performances to an 80-58 win, a .500 winning percentage (8-8) for the first time this season, their fifth win in six games, and a 2-0 record in the PL.

"Our kids came out and did what we needed to do tonight," AU head coach Jeff Jones said afterwards. "It wasn't our best game, but we worked hard and started the game with a lot of Energy."

Perhaps that's an understatement.

The Eagles never trailed, opening the game on a 12-2 run over the first 4:56. Navy closed the gap to 12-6 but never got any closer than that. Later in the half, with AU in the lead, 25-19, Ingram drilled four of his eight three-pointers in a row, comprising all the scoring in a 12-3 AU run that effectively sealed the game. The Eagles went into halftime ahead 38-24.

"We felt like we had to keep them scoring in the 50s to have any chance to win," Navy head coach Don Devoe said. "Obviously we were off that - they had 38 at the half. It was just one impressive effort by Rodriguez and Ingram tonight."

Rodriguez had eight assists at the break, while Ingram had 16 points. Ingram understandably cooled down a little bit in the second half, with a more modest 11 points. But Rodriguez only heated up, dishing out 11 assists and turning the ball over only once in a near perfect final 20 minutes.

That performance ended up shattering the previous school assist record, 15, set by Herb Jamison against Temple on Feb. 25, 1976, nearly 28 years ago. The previous conference mark was 16, set by Bucknell's Russell Peyton against Maryland-Baltimore County on Nov. 26, 1991. Rodriguez fell three assists short of the NCAA Division I record of 22, set by Charleston Southern's Tony Fairley against Armstrong Atlantic on Feb. 9, 1987.

Ingram and the rest of the Eagles helped the cause, shooting 54 percent from the floor and 56 percent from three-point range.

"We shot the lights out," Rodriguez said. "When our first few shots go down like they did today, everyone's confidence goes up - the players on the floor, the players coming off the bench, everyone."

"It's especially true for me," Ingram said. "I get the first few in, and I get in a rhythm. But that's the thing. Yeah, I had eight threes, but I bet on almost every one of them the pass came from Andres."

Jones was a little more mum about the whole night, knowing the most important part of the evening was securing the Eagles second league win and the first on the road.

"I wish [getting to .500] had come a little sooner," Jones said afterwards. "But right now I am more concerned about being 2-0 in the conference."

For the Eagles, junior forward Jernavis Draughn finished with a relatively quiet 19 points, junior guard Jason Thomas added 13 points, and Rodriguez added 11 points, along with five steals, to his record breaking assist total. For Navy, guard David Hooper had 21 points, while Mike Higgins added 12 points off the bench.

AU will attempt to improve on their record this Saturday, taking on Lehigh at Bender Arena at 1 p.m. But while the season goes on, Wednesday night will go down in the history books.AU Men's Basketball pulled out a gritty 58-55 win over Bucknell at Bender Arena on Saturday, Jan. 10, in their Patriot League opener, despite committing 24 turnovers.

Freshman guard Andre Ingram led the Eagles by scoring 13 points, while senior forward Jernavis Draughn tallied a double, double with 12 rebounds and 10 points. Bucknell's sophomore guard Charles Lee scored 18 points while freshman forward Donald Brown added 10 points off the bench.

"We were very, very fortunate," said AU head coach Jeff Jones. "We used up a good portion of our in-conference luck in this one game. Bucknell outplayed us ... while our guys were looking for shortcuts, especially in the first half."

Despite Jones' assertion, AU did most of the other little things better in a game where both teams struggled on offense. The Eagle defense held PL leading scorer and Bucknell sophomore guard Kevin Bettencourt to only six points and a dismal 0-10 effort from the floor. Overall the Eagle defense held the Bison to 31 percent from the floor, although the Eagles weren't much better at 42 percent.

With both teams missing shots, AU won the important rebounding battle 45-33, with Draughn's dozen perhaps making the difference. The Eagles also led Bucknell 27-18 in bench points, through junior forwards Raimondas Petrauskas and Patrick Okpwae, and freshman guard Linas Lekavicius, who each scored eight points.

"Our bench points have been good for us, but are a little misleading, because of [sophomore forward] Jarred Kohl starting," Jones said. "The one guy who gave us what we couldn't have been expecting was Patrick Okpwae. He had a couple of blocked shots, and made his free throws. Without his play, we don't go in down only two points at halftime."

"I thought we played [Bettencourt] well," Jones continued in one of his few positive assertions after the game. "We felt our best match up against him was with Andres, but we didn't want him in foul trouble. Linas got to look at him a little bit, and Jason [Thomas, junior forward] got to look at him a little bit."

Even so, Bucknell and Bettencourt should've won it down the stretch.

AU started uncharacteristically slow, then fought back to a two-point deficit by halftime. But the Eagles didn't take their first second half lead until nearly 14 minutes later when an Ingram 3-pointer put AU up 42-39. The lead changed hands twice down the stretch, and with14 seconds left, Bucknell in-bounded the ball down 48-46.

With five seconds left the ball went to Bettencourt who was guarded by AU senior guard Andres Rodriguez. Bettencourt leaned into Rodriguez while taking a three-pointer from the left elbow, missed the shot, but drew the foul and was rewarded with three free throws.

But just as he'd missed all day from the floor, Bettencourt missed his second attempt, and only tied the score with his third.

"I thought it was a bad call," Rodriguez said of the end of regulation. "Thank God he missed one."

AU never trailed in the overtime session, yet Bucknell still could've tied in at the buzzer. With 10 seconds left in the overtime, Bison guard Abe Badmus hit a jumper to cut the AU lead to 58-55. Badmus then forced a jump ball on the ensuing inbound play, tying up AU junior forward Matej Cresnik. The possession arrow went to Bucknell, only for Badmus and Charles each to miss three-pointers in the closing seconds.

"That play summed up the entire day," Jones said. "You're supposed to be strong enough with the ball to draw a foul. We weren't. I was speechless when that happened."

Though not pretty, it was still a conference win. The Eagles will take what they can get, but aim not to make the same mistakes again.

"I don't think a lot of the guys knew how tough conference games are," Rodriguez said. "None of the games are easy. Hopefully we'll learn from it."

Over winter break, the Men's Basketball team went 3-4 in a seven game winter break stretch to finish 6-8 in a non-conference schedule that included only four home games.

The Eagles struggled in their first game after exams, despite 18 points from senior guard Andres Rodriguez, and fell at St. Francis 75-63 on Dec. 18, after building an early 15 point lead. AU elevated their effort against Notre Dame three days later, and led the Big East giants late, 69-65, but in the end fell 78-74. Freshman guard Andre Ingram had 23 points in the loss, while junior forward Matej Cresnik added 21.

After two tough road losses, the Eagles flew to Honolulu, Hawaii, for the three-day, eight-team Rainbow Classic. AU dropped their first round game to West Coast Conference contender Pepperdine 82-69 on Dec. 28. But less than 24 hours later the Eagles finally secured their first win since final exams, beating Bowling Green 73-64 behind 19 Ingram points. AU won the consolation bracket the next day with a 71-66 win over 2003 NCAA Tournament team East Tennessee State. Freshman guard Linas Lekavicius had a break out performance, scoring 22 points in 18 minutes off the bench.

The Eagles returned home after New Years with their first real momentum of the season. On Jan. 3, AU nearly played Ivy League contenders Yale out of Bender Arena, building a 22 point first half lead en route to an 84-73 win. Six players scored in double figures for the Eagles, led by junior forward Jernavis Draughn with 17 points, and Rodriguez with 14 points.

Two days later, American again jumped out early against Niagara, but lost a 15-point lead again and lost 75-72. AU lost the lead early in the second half, but regained it later only to be outscored 8-3 in the final minute. Ingram finished with 21 points in the loss, but missed a buzzer beating three-point attempt to tie the game.

As the semester comes to an end and one of the founding members leaves American University, Section 202 has decided to take a trip down memory lane. For our fans, old and new, who are wondering how Section 202 came to be, this episode is a must. Listen along as hosts Connor Sturniolo and Liah Argiropoulos reminisce about the beginning of Section 202 and how it got to where it is now.

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