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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
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Men’s basketball falls to Colgate at home

Simpkins thanks crowd for thunderous support in loss

The American University men’s basketball team (11-10) lost to the Colgate Raiders (13-8) at home on Jan. 28 by a score of 73-54

Both teams entered the match riding the momentum of wins. American’s last game was an 84-65 home win against Holy Cross, while Colgate’s most recent win came by a score of 60-57 at home against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks on Jan. 22. 

American held an Alumni Day celebration during the match, hosting the 2014 Patriot League Champion team for the 10-year anniversary of their championship victory, and brought them onto the court at halftime for the crowd to cheer on.

Before the game, the Eagles’ head coach Duane Simpkins presented a ball to senior forward Matt Rogers in celebration of his passing the 1,000-point milestone in his career at American. 

After the presentation, the game tipped off. The Eagles scored 7 points unanswered to begin the game: a 3-pointer by senior guard Lorenzo Donadio and two baskets in the paint by Rogers. After that, Colgate went on an 8-0 run to take the lead, one they would hold for the rest of the game. 

The Eagles struggled with shooting the ball throughout the game, but especially so in the first half, where they shot 40.9 percent from the field and 25 percent from the 3-point line. Despite these struggles, the game was still relatively close at the half, American trailing the Raiders 34-24. 

Colgate extended the lead after halftime as the Eagles struggled to put more points on the board in response. After going down 19 early on, American found some fire, bringing their score back to a 9-point deficit. The large crowd gathered in Bender Arena fueled the flurry of offense from the Eagles, forcing a timeout from Colgate to regroup. 

With just under 12 minutes remaining in the game, the Eagles hoped to transition that sequence into a full-scale comeback. Still, Colgate’s defense clamped down and set up their offense for success, answering nearly each of the Eagles’ scores with two of their own. The game ended with a score of 73-54, the Eagles’ second home loss of the season. 

Rogers led the team in points with 19, while junior guard Elijah Stephens led the team in assists with 4. Sophomore center Jermaine Ballisager Webb led the team in rebounds, posting 8 on the day. 

After the game, Simpkins said the team “didn’t respond well to adversity; missing a lot of shots early affected our defense and allowed them to hop out to that lead.” 

Simpkins also mentioned the team’s guarding habits, playing tight until the end of the shot clock but then letting a good shot get up right before its expiration. “We have to fix that, but it was good to learn that today,” he said. 

Simpkins thanked the large crowd of 1,644 gathered in Bender for their support during the game, giving them some credit for the Eagles’ comeback early in the second half, saying “I’m really proud that we got this many people out for the game today. It’s great to have them here, I just ask that they stick with us.”

“I’m pleased with where we are, but we still have a long way to go. Now, we have to get ready for Lafayette,” Simpkins said to close out his comments. 

The Eagles’ next home game is Feb. 3 against the Bucknell Bison. 

This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks, Isabelle Kravis and Olivia Citarella.

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