AU men’s basketball defeats conference-best Bucknell at home
Eagles now rank fourth in the Patriot League
AU men’s basketball soundly defeated the defending league champions Bucknell 76-68 on Saturday in Bender Arena.
Bucknell (12-8, 6-2 PL) entered the game at the top of the Patriot League standings. The Eagles opened up the game with a 15-1 run over the Bisons. Junior guard Sa’eed Nelson led all scorers with 20 points, while sophomore Sam Iorio added 17 points and shot a perfect 9-9 at the line in the win. Bucknell’s Nate Sistina recorded 13 points and eight rebounds.
AU (10-9, 4-4 PL) led 36-25 at the half after a strong performance on both sides of the ball. The Bisons were held to just 23 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
“[The opening run] gave our guys confidence, and building up that lead helps you when it always comes down to the plays at the end,” said AU head coach Mike Brennan.
Brennan said his team came out “ready to play against a tough” Bucknell squad and “took advantage” of many missed shots.
“We put two halves together against a really good team,” he said.
Freshman forward Josh Alexander continued to make more strides in the victory, scoring 9 points off the bench for the Eagles.
“He’s been doing it since he stepped on campus, steadily working hard,” Brennan said. “He’s one of the most coachable kids we’ve had here, and he really understands the game.”
The win against Bucknell was a little personal for Nelson, AU’s team captain, as it was his first win against the Bisons since he joined AU in 2016.
“I felt like we just wanted it more … it was our first win against them in two years, it felt good,” Nelson said.
Now 19 games into the season, Nelson described his team’s biggest improvement thus far as “just competing every day” and “being patient and executing down the stretch.”
After a three game skid in mid-January, the Eagles are now sitting at fourth in the Patriot League standings and have now won two league games in a row after a win against Boston on Jan. 23.
“We wanna be the best team in the league,” Nelson said. ”We just gotta keep coming out and competing and being ready at all times, we see what we can do on our home court against the best team in the league.”
AU will visit Loyola Maryland on Wednesday before returning to Bender to face Holy Cross on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 2 p.m.