AU men’s basketball falls to Navy in Patriot League quarterfinal
With season over, Eagles hope to continue improving next year
The AU men’s basketball team fell to Navy 60-56 in the quarterfinal round of the Patriot League tournament in Bender Arena on Thursday, ending the Eagles’ season. Entering the game as the fourth seed, it was the first time AU hosted a Patriot League postseason game since March 2014.
The Eagles’ only lead of the game came in the first half when they were up 5-4, but they entered halftime down just 27-24. With just over three minutes remaining, AU cut the deficit to two, but the Midshipmen answered with a quick 3-pointer off the hands of George Kiernan.
Junior guard Sa’eed Nelson led all scorers with 29 points and shot 5 of 9 from behind the arc. Nelson was the only Eagle to reach double digits in scoring. Navy center Evan Wieck led the way for the Midshipmen, finishing with 18 points and four rebounds.
“[Navy] played well. We knew they were going to be tough. We missed a ton of outside shots,” head coach Mike Brennan said. “All of our looks weren’t great.”
Throughout the contest, the Eagles chucked up dozens of threes, connecting on just 7 of their 35 attempts.
“It was a tough loss, I thought we played hard, but at the end of the day, we weren’t knocking down shots, so it’s hard to win like that,” said Nelson, the team captain.
Although their season has come to an end, the Eagles showed consistent improvement this year with the addition of talented shooters and Nelson’s leadership from the point position. With his senior year approaching, Nelson noted the team’s progress.
“There have been more wins than my first two seasons here,” Nelson said. “All of our guys worked hard, and we’re gonna talk about it and get ready for next year.”
AU finished the season 15-15 overall with a 9-9 conference record, a major step up from the 2017 season, when the team only won six games.
“Despite our record, there has been a ton of progress,” Brennan said. “This group has been great. It’s early, but I feel good about everybody coming back essentially. If they continue to work the way they have, we should be good.”
While their chances of making it to the Big Dance are over, months of practice and recruiting await the Eagles as they prepare for a highly anticipated 2019-20 season.