Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, March 21, 2019

AU men's basketball rallies in the second half to carry team over Army

Nelson and Boonyasith come up big for Eagles in their come-from-behind win

AU men's basketball rallies in the second half to carry team over Army

Junior guard Sa'eed Nelson goes in for a layup during a Feb. 2 game against Holy Cross.

After trailing by as many as nine points in the first half, the AU men’s basketball team pulled off an exciting come-from-behind victory over Army West Point on Saturday in Bender Arena. 

After trailing 35-31 at the end of the first half, the Eagles came out firing in the second half, making 16 of their first 21 shots and starting a 15-6 run to take the lead. The team held onto that lead for the remainder of the game, beating the Black Knights 71-68.

Freshman guard Jacob Boonyasith had another big night as he led all scorers with his career-best 20 points in his third consecutive start for AU (13-10, 7-5 PL). Junior guard Sa’eed Nelson was one rebound short of recording a triple-double, as he finished with 11 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. 

Entering the game, AU had a 1-5 record on the season when they trailed at halftime. Matt Wilson finished with 14 points for the Black Knights. 

“They defended us really well, but I thought our guys battled through it,” said head coach Mike Brennan. “None of the baskets were easy to get, so it was a great win for us.”

During a media timeout, AU honored the tenth anniversary of the 2008-09 Patriot League championship team. 

“I wanted to connect that team with this team,” Brennan, who was a part of that championship winning staff, said. “That was a great group. They were great competitors, great guys to coach. They let our guys know that if you keep working, good things will happen.” 

On adjusting after the first half, Brennan said his team just needed to get “more aggressive” to match Army’s pace. 

In his first three starts for the Eagles, Boonyasith averaged 13 points per game. 

“He can do more than just shoot,” Brennan said on the freshman’s performance. “He’s still trying to figure his way out there, but it’s his defense that keeps him out on the court for us.”

AU, the top team at defending against 3-pointers in the Patriot League, held the Black Knights to 0-16, shooting from behind the arc. It was Army’s first time in 285 games where they did not hit at least one 3-pointer. 

AU is currently 5-1, after their last six games. With six games left in the regular season, the Eagles are looking to keep that momentum going with a home game against Loyola Maryland on Wednesday. 

“Every team is different in different ways, so we’re going to get into that mindset for who we’re playing against and what we need to do to stop them,” Brennan said. 

mhashash@theeagleonline.com


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