AU men’s basketball rolls past New Hampshire in home opener

Eagles led 43-25 at the half and never looked back

AU men’s basketball rolls past New Hampshire in home opener

Sophomore Sam Iorio fields defense in a Nov. 16, 2018 game against University of New Hampshire.

In a game where they never trailed, the AU men’s basketball team dominated New Hampshire in a 68-44 win in their home opener in Bender. The Eagles entered halftime up 45-23, and led by as many as 28 points in the second half. With the win, AU’s record improves to 2-1 on the season, and they are now 2-2 in their last four home openers.

Junior guard Sa’eed Nelson led the way for the Eagles with 14 points on 6 of 11 shooting from the floor. Nelson also recorded five rebounds.

Sophomore guard Stacy Beckton Jr. scored a career-high 12 points and had three blocks while coming off the bench for AU. And, in his first game back in Bender since the 2013-14 season, graduate student Yilret “YY” Yiljep added six points and three rebounds for the Eagles. The Eagles outrebounded New Hampshire 41-38.

UNH was led by Elijah Jordan with 14 points. Marque Maultsby had seven points and 11 rebounds off the bench for the Wildcats.

“I hadn’t gotten a home opener win in my first two years here, so just being able to come out and play in front of a crowd like this felt good,” Nelson said.

Head coach Mike Brennan said this win was a result of his team “continuing to share the ball and get comfortable out there.”

Brennan was especially happy about freshman forward Josh Alexander’s performance. Alexander finished with four points, and all three freshmen recruits saw playing time in the win.

“I was happy that he got in there and did what he did,” Brennan said. “I know he’s fully capable of doing it and I’ve been anxious to get him in, and what he did tonight makes me look forward to next time.”

Brennan said his team combatted New Hampshire’s physical play by “having big bodies out there” such as Yiljep and junior Mark Gasperini, and by trying to match the physicality.

When asked about Beckton’s career night, Brennan said Stacy has a good feel for the game and good instincts that helped him succeed.

“He’s a good passer and gets other people shots and he’s been coming along, is coachable and works hard,” Brennan said.

The Eagles’ next game will come after Thanksgiving, when the team travels to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Nov. 24.

“There’s still a lot of things we need to improve on,” Nelson said. “We had a lot of turnovers today still, gave up too many open threes, so we still have to come to practice and work hard.”

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