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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Men’s basketball concludes tournament run

A loss to Bucknell at home ends American’s season

American University men’s basketball (16-16) ended their season with a postseason loss to Bucknell (14-18) 80-57 in Bender Arena on March 7.  

Entering the game, the Eagles needed to secure a victory to continue a postseason run. During the regular season, American beat Bucknell both away 71-63 and at home 75-66. As they looked toward their third meeting of the season, the fourth-seeded Eagles sought to use their highly-ranked offensive abilities to secure another victory against the Bison. 

Entering the game, senior forward Matt Rogers was ranked third in individual scoring per game while American was ranked first in overall 3-point field goals made. Bucknell was second to American in both categories. It was evident that if the Eagles wanted a victory, it would not come easy. 

Rogers won the tip-off and passed the ball to senior guard Lorenzo Donadio. The Eagles flew down the court where Donadio drained a shot from outside the paint. The Bison retaliated with a layup and free throw, immediately tying the game. 

Bucknell landed an additional two layups before Donadio responded with a layup of his own and a free throw, bringing American down by only one point. A jumper from junior point guard Elijah Stephens and another long-range shot from Rogers left the Eagles up four points nearly a quarter into the game. 

Shots continued to fall from outside the paint for both American and Bucknell and as the half began to wind down, the Eagles and the Bison were tied 16-16. The Bison put up five points, yet Donadio responded with five of his own to tie the game once again. 

Bucknell proceeded to put up 15 points while Stephens put up four for American, and with under five minutes remaining in the half, the Eagles trailed 36-25. Rogers shot two free throws and a jumper to keep American in the game, but Bucknell hit two free throws and a layup of their own. At the half, the Eagles trailed the Bison 40-29. 

As they entered the second half, Bucknell sophomore center Noah Williamson was the game’s top scorer, contributing 15 points. Donadio tied for second with Bucknell senior guard Jack Forrest with 11 points each, while Stephens secured third with eight points. 

Donadio began the second half with a pass to Stephens, but Bucknell put up a single free throw to grow their lead. Bucknell rapidly increased their lead to 15 points despite a block from senior guard Lincoln Ball. With under 15 minutes remaining in play, the Bison held a 16-point lead over the Eagles. 

Back-to-back long-range shots from Donadio and sophomore guard Geoff Sprouse closed the gap to 10 points for the first time since the first half. Despite their efforts, the Bison put up six unanswered points before Rogers responded with one free throw. Ball put up an additional two free throws, bringing Bucknell’s gap back to 13. 

The Bison sank two 3-pointers while Rogers put up four free throws, but despite his efforts to keep the Eagles’ flight alive, Rogers ultimately fouled out of the game with nearly seven minutes remaining. 

Following Rogers’ departure, Bucknell went on a 12-0 stampede before sophomore center Jermaine Ballisager Webb made two free throws. Despite his efforts, the Bison were up 24. 

Sophomore guard Adrian Samuels nailed a pump fake jumper followed by a dunk from Ballisager Webb, but the Eagles were still trailing by 26 points. Sprouse concluded the game with a jumper and a layup, and despite the team’s efforts, American fell to Bucknell 80-57. 

At the buzzer, Williamson was the game’s top scorer with 23 points. Donadio and Forrest once again tied for second with 16 points each, while Rogers and Bucknell’s junior guard Elvin Edmonds IV tied for third with 13 points each. 

Forrest cited Bucknell’s victory as monumental for the Bison, as he mentioned “Our season ended here last year.” 

Despite the loss, American head coach Duane Simpkins spoke to American’s success in his first year leading the team, calling himself proud. 

“I'm a competitor. I want a lot more,” Simpkins said. “We’ve had multiple guys make All-Patriot League teams, we had a 3.3 GPA as a team. So there's, there's a lot of positives, but we're just getting started.” 

As the Eagles look to next season, Simpkins says he will also be improving. 

“I'm still growing, and I'm gonna be a better coach for this next season.”  

This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks and Ariana Kavoossi. 

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