Men’s basketball dominates UMBC from start to finish

Eagles put together most complete game this season

Men’s basketball dominates UMBC from start to finish

Jamir Harris (#4) and Mark Gasperini (#23) during a home game against Howard University on Nov. 26

Coming out strong the game after blowing a 19-point lead is a difficult task, but AU made this look easy, as the men’s basketball team blew by the UMBC Retrievers 85-61 Tuesday night in Bender Arena.

Despite a slow start from senior point guard Sa’eed Nelson, everyone on the floor contributed to AU’s excellent ball movement on the offensive end.

“They’re just getting better at it, more comfortable,” said AU head coach Mike Brennan.

Nelson led the way for the Eagles with 17 points, seven assists, three rebounds and a career-high eight steals. Seven other Eagles contributed at least 6 points, with freshman shooting guard Ben Lubarsky scoring a career-high 9 points on 3-3 shooting.

“[Lubarsky has] been working a lot at practice,” Nelson said. “I think he’s just gonna keep getting better as the year goes on.”

With AU (3-4) leading UMBC (5-4) 34-25 at the 2:15 mark, Nelson started to heat up, scoring 8 points during this stretch. AU went into halftime with a commanding 42-28 lead.

Not wanting a repeat of its loss this past Saturday at Albany, the Eagles came out in the second half knowing something had to change.

“We learned from last game,” said Nelson. “We had two hard practices … we weren’t letting up that lead.”

Despite AU’s issues with fouls, the team’s hard-nosed play helped extend the lead to 22 points seven minutes into the second half.

From there on in, AU maintained its hefty lead, thanks to consistent offensive play and stifling defensive intensity. Brennan credited Nelson for his strong defense, but said that the whole team is “working hard, communicating together.”

Next up, AU will travel to Fairfax to take on the George Mason Patriots (9-1), a team which is coming off a title at the Cayman Islands Classic. The game can be viewed on MASN 2 and ESPN+.

“We know [George Mason] is good, very good,” said Nelson. “But at the same time, I think we’re good too, so we’ve just gotta come in as prepared as we can and play ball.”

jkolodny@theeagleonline.com

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