After 40 years, Eagles send Hoyas back to the dog house

The night American University was heard all over America (again)

After 40 years, Eagles send Hoyas back to the dog house

On Dec. 15, 1982, the American University men’s basketball team took down Georgetown in the biggest win in AU’ school history, dubbed by The Eagle as, “The night American University was heard all over America.” 40 years later on Nov. 23, 2022, the Eagles did it again. 

In the span of 82 years, these cross-town rivals have met 55 times, with Georgetown winning 45 of those matchups. The Hoyas were once known as one of the nation’s top college basketball programs. 

Georgetown won the National Championship in 1984 and made it to the final four five times, as well as winning the Big East Conference tournament a record eight times. However, its historic program has seen a decline, with the Hoyas going 0-19 in the Big East last season.

On that fateful night in 1982, the two teams matched up in Capital Centre, Maryland in front of 9,900 spectators. The Eagles were predicted to lose, facing five future NBA players while missing their own best scorer, Ed Sloane (AU ‘83).

In spite of Georgetown’s predicted skill advantage, the Eagles were able to pull off an underdog win against the nationally ranked Hoyas 62-61. The students of American University went “berserk” according to the Washington Post, taking to the streets of Massachusetts Ave. and tossing box score sheets from windows on campus.

AU and GU didn’t face off for 21 years after that night. In 2007, the cross-town rivalry was renewed with a loss for the Eagles. 2008 resulted in the same. And so did every matchup the Eagles had with the Hoyas until this Wednesday afternoon in Capital One Arena.

Georgetown opened the game with an early five point run against the Eagles. AU clawed its way into the game and took a one point lead over the Hoyas at 11-10. However, after the second media timeout of the game, Georgetown pulled ahead and established a 16 point lead over the Eagles.

American started the second half down 10 to the Hoyas, but with three made free throws from graduate student Jaxon Knotek the Eagles started to hack at Georgetown’s lead. Junior Johnny O’Neil kept the momentum going, hitting a 3-pointer and adding another basket a minute later to put the Eagle down four points. 

A jumper by freshman Jermaine Ballisager Webb put the Eagles up one, and from there the Eagles took off. American found itself with a 7-point lead over Georgetown, one the Hoyas couldn’t catch up to.

Even with a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Georgetown, the Eagles took down the Hoyas 74-70 for the first time in 40 years.

American shot 51.8 percent from the field, 13.7 percent better than the Hoyas. O’Neil led the Eagles with 16 points, freshman Geoff Sprouse added 14, Knotek had 14 and Ballisager Webb led the team with seven rebounds and nine points.

With the game taking place during Thanksgiving break, there were no masses on streets or fireworks in celebration, but for students of American University, a 40 year drought ending victory has never tasted so sweet.

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