American Holds on For 84-72 Victory Over Lafayette Men's Hoops
March 1, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Five American players scored in double figures to lift the team to an 84-72 victory over Lafayette at Bender Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Leopards enter the Patriot League Tournament as the No. 6 seed and will travel to face No. 3 seed Colgate on Wednesday at 7 p.m..
Senior Bilal Abdullah led the Leopards (15-14, 6-8) with a game-high 23 points. Classmate Matt Betley finished the afternoon with a career-high 21 points, including four three-pointers, and his ninth consecutive game in double figures.
In the second half, the Leopards used an 8-0 run to bring the game to within four (43-39) at the 15-minute mark. During the run, Abdullah went 4-of-4 at the foul line and Betley had a basket. Lafayette cut American's lead to four three times in the second half before finally erasing the 33-24 halftime margin with Everest Schmidt's fast-break dunk off a pass from Andrew Brown to tie the game at 49-49 with 10:53 left on the clock.
American (18-11, 10-4) responded with a 15-0 run with two three's from Bryce Simon, a three-point play from Brian Gilmore and two free-throws from both Garrison Carr and Gilmore to lead 64-49 at 6:17. Simon had five three-pointers, leading the Eagles with 19 points while averaging 6.6 ppg coming into the game. Carr finished with 13 points and joined Travis Lay (11) and Derrick Mercer (16) in double digits.
Lafayette cut the Eagles' lead to eight (71-63) with 1:43 on the game clock after an Abdullah layup. The Leopards came as close as seven on three occasions in the final minute and a half before American free throws gave the game its 84-72 final.
Seven Lafayette players record at least one assist, led by Michael Gruner with three. Lafayette won the battle on the boards by a 35-29 margin, out-rebounding an opponent for the eighth time this season. Lafayette had 17 offensive rebounds. The Leopards shot 39 percent from the floor for the game while American checking in at 52 percent overall and 60 percent in the second half.
The American win combined with a Navy loss at Colgate handed American the Patriot League regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament. American will face off with No. 8 seed Holy Cross while Navy will host Bucknell. No. 4 seed Lehigh will welcome No. 5 seed Army. All of those games are scheduled for Wednesday.
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