Connor Nelson’s buzzer-beater knocks off Bucknell
Men’s basketball looks to build upon the 1-point win
After a frustrating road loss to Lehigh on Jan. 12, it appeared that AU was destined for the same fate Wednesday night in Bender Arena against Bucknell, a team missing two of its starters due to illnesses.
But with just a few ticks left on the clock and Bucknell leading AU 60-58, senior guard Sa’eed Nelson quickly dribbled the ball up the floor, drew attention from a Bison defender and passed to sophomore forward Connor Nelson, who used a ball fake to back off his defender before shooting a flawless 3-point shot that went through the net as time expired.
With that, AU (7-9, 3-2 PL) knocked off the Bucknell University Bison (7-11, 3-2 PL) 61-60.
“Credit to [AU head coach] Brennan [for the play call], and having faith in me to take the shot,” Connor Nelson said. “I come off and fake a screen, it’s a brush screen … I took a dribble to the right, there were two seconds left, I had to get a 3-pointer off, and it went in.”
In the past few seasons, AU has had trouble finishing close games. This time was different however, as the transfer from Central Wyoming College pushed the Eagles over the top in front of a stunned Bender Arena crowd.
Prior to the buzzer-beater, a back and forth game ensued. After Bucknell rushed out to an early 11-2 lead, the Eagles suppressed Bucknell’s offensive momentum and went into halftime tied 27-27.
“It’s a team effort [on the defensive end] ... We played hard,” Brennan said.
After a solid effort in the first half, AU came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, going on a 12-0 run over the first six minutes of the second half.
Despite the offensive onslaught from AU, Bucknell clawed its way back in the game, tying the contest at 50 with just under five minutes left to play.
What set AU apart down the stretch was the play of its leader and point guard, Sa’eed Nelson. Despite shooting a dreadful 1-11 from the field over the first 35 minutes of the contest, Nelson remained composed, dishing out the game-winning assist, and scoring five of his 10 points in the final five minutes.
“I give Sa’eed credit,” Brennan said. “That’s the kind of leader he’s been for us throughout his career, and it showed up tonight.”
AU will be back in Bender Saturday at 4 p.m. to take on the Holy Cross Crusaders (2-16, 1-4 PL).
“Every game is going to come down the wire [in the Patriot League],” Brennan said. “You’ve got to protect your home court.”