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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Mountain Hawks clip Eagles’ wings

AU falls to Lehigh despite short despite large comeback

The American University men’s basketball team (15-12) matched up against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (15-12) on Saturday for senior day at Bender Arena, losing a close game 62-59 despite almost coming back from a 14-point deficit.

The Eagles had previously lost to the Mountain Hawks on the road on Jan. 14, and were hungry for a win to protect their current seed position in the upcoming Patriot League Tournament. 

American celebrated the careers of its two seniors, guards Jaxon Knotek and Ben Lubarsky, with a ceremony at the beginning of the game. At halftime, AU inducted its 2023 class into the Cassell Hall of Fame.

“Our program is really going to miss these guys,” head coach Mike Brennan said.

Junior forward Matt Rogers started the game off strong for American, winning the tip and scoring off of a post move in the paint. The Eagles and Mountain Hawks continued to trade baskets back and forth until Lehigh went on a 6-point run to establish a lead.

American battled back, including a layup from sophomore guard Elijah Stephens and a jumper from freshman guard Geoff Sprouse. However, Lehigh was able to keep its lead, making the score 23-16.

A basket in the paint from freshman center Jermaine Ballisager Webb started a 9-0 run for the Eagles, putting them down 2 with just over two minutes left to play in the half. Lehigh stopped American’s run with a jumper and closed out the half up 6, 33-27.

The Mountain Hawks did not let up on their run in the second half, increasing their lead to 14 points. Two jumpers from junior guard Johnny O’Neil were able to bring the Eagles within double digits. 

American continued to eat away at Lehigh’s lead, and a basket from Rogers and junior guard Lorenzo Donadio cut the Mountain Hawks’ lead down to 5. A dunk from Rogers and two made free throws from Stephens brought the Eagles down by only 2 with 41 seconds left in the game.

Lehigh headed to the line for free throws, connecting on only one to put their team up by 3 points. Stephens, fouled after running the ball up the court, went to the line, putting in both free throws for a 1-point game with nine seconds left to play.

American fouled Lehigh in an attempt to regain possession of the ball. The Mountain Hawks once again went to the charity stripe, making both extra shots for a 3-point lead. 

The Eagles had eight seconds left on the clock to score. American’s final shot was a 3-pointer from Sprouse, which was tipped by Lehigh and fell short of the basket.

AU was led by Rogers, who had 22 points and five rebounds. O’Neil added 10 points and six rebounds, and Stephens contributed 10 points and five assists.

“Wins and losses is my job to worry about. My team shouldn’t be focused on that, they are focused on getting better and improving,” Brennan said.

The Eagles will return to Bender Arena on Feb. 22 for their final home game of the season against the Navy Midshipmen. 

This article was edited by Penelope Jennings and Nina Heller. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Natasha LaChac.

Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 

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