The American University men’s basketball team (17-15) fell to No 6. Lafayette College (11-22) in the Patriot League semifinals despite overcoming a 21-point deficit to force two overtimes. Losing by 8 in the second overtime, the Eagles’ season came to an end with a score of 84-76.
The game started with a defensive battle, with neither team scoring until one minute and 24 seconds into the game. Junior guard Lorenzo Donadio broke the scoring dry spell with a jumper in the paint for the Eagles.
Lafayette responded with a basket of their own before establishing an early lead. The Eagles struggled with the Leopards’ hot hands from beyond the arc shooting 61.5 percent from 3. With seven 3-point baskets, Lafayette established a 19-point lead with five minutes remaining in the half.
With the help of junior forward Matt Rogers, who went on a 7-point scoring streak, the Eagles were able to cut the lead down to 16 at the half.
The second half started with the Eagles continuing to slowly chip away at the Leopards’ lead. A 3-pointer and jumper from junior guard Johnny O’Neil was able to cut the deficit down to 11.
From there, American found the momentum they were lacking before and went on a 14-3 run, including a 3-point basket from freshman guard Geoff Sprouse to bring the game within 8 points.
Lafayette was unable to match American, and the Eagles sparked an 8-0 run. With a dunk from senior guard Jaxon Knotek, the Eagles found themselves down 1 point after overcoming a 21-point deficit in the matchup.
With a made hookshot post move from Rogers, the Eagles had their first lead since they were 2-0 in the beginning of the matchup.
Lafayette was fouled and sent to the line. However, they only connected on one free throw, so the game was tied 59-59 and sent into overtime.
Overtime gave the two teams five more minutes to fight for the win. The Eagles had a strong start with a made 3-pointer from Rogers. A layup from Knotek put the Eagles up 5 against the Leopards with 23 seconds left to play.
American sent Lafayette to the line with a foul, and the Leopards were able to cut the lead down to two. In a lapse of judgment by AU, Lafayette connected with a 3-point basket with four seconds left, tying the game 66-66 and sending the teams into double overtime.
The Leopards took over in the second overtime, going on an explosive 10-0 run while the Eagles were unable to score. Despite a basket made by American, it was not enough to overcome the lead Lafayette established.
A final 3-point basket put the Eagles down 8 points with 12 seconds left, but it was too late. Lafayette ended American’s season with a final score of 84-76.
Rogers had his fifth double-double of the season with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Knotek followed with 16 points, sophomore guard Elijah Stephens had 15 points and O’Neil had 14 points and 8 rebounds.
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings and Nina Heller. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Natasha LaChac.