For the second straight game, the American University men's basketball team overcame a halftime deficit, this time coming back from an eight-point disadvantage at Colgate on Saturday afternoon, rallying to beat the Raiders, 69-62. The Eagles are now 4-0 in the Patriot League for the second time in school history, last accomplishing the feat in 2005.
With five Eagles each picking up two fouls in in the first 20 minutes, American was forced to play without three starters for much of the initial half, heading to the break down 34-26. AU rallied in the second however, taking the lead with just under nine minutes and holding on for the victory to remain atop the Patriot League standings.
"The guys grinded out a great win for our team today," said head coach Mike Brennan. "We had some players get into foul trouble and fell behind. Colgate is a great 3-point shooting team, but "Pee Wee" really stepped up today as we rallied in the second half."
With starters Tony Wroblicky, Jesse Reed and Kyle Kager all out of the game with two fouls midway through the first half, Darius Gardner truly stepped up, shouldering the burden offensively, scoring 20-plus points for the second time is his career, finishing with 21 on 7-of-8 shooting, 7-of-9 from the line.
Gardner also added a game-high seven rebounds as the Eagles dominated the Raiders on the boards, 26-14. AU also earned a 32-18 point advantage in the paint.
After starting the season 0-7 in games in which they trailed at the half, American is now 2-0 in such games, winning its second-straight contest in come-from-behind fashion.
Despite an early 13-6 lead, foul trouble led to the Eagles trailing by as much as 11 late in the first half, but Reed re-entered the game in the final minute, drilling an important 3-pointer with seven seconds left in the half.
Colgate 3-point shooting (9-of-16) kept the Raiders in control for the middle 20 minutes of the game, but American began to chip away at Colgate's advantage throughout the first 11 minutes of the second half, eventually taking a lead they would not relinquish on an And-1 by Kager with 8:31 remaining, 50-49.
From there, a 9-3 American run put the Eagles in the driver's seat as the Raiders were forced to use quick offense and fouls to try and get back into it. Colgate was able to close within two points with only 1:10 left in the game, but junior John Schoof came up with a huge 3-pointer to help seal the game for AU.
American had one of its best shooting performances of the season in the contest, hitting 62.5 percent (25-of-40) from the field, trumping the 3-point shooting of Colgate as well as the Raiders' fast start which saw them shoot 71.4 percent (10-of-14) in the first half.
Three other Eagles joined Gardner in double-digit scoring against Colgate. Schoof finished with 15 points with three 3-pointers, while Kager scored 13 inclueding 5-of-5 attempts from the charity stripe. Reed added two triples of his own along with two game-changing blocks, finishing with 11 points.
Wroblikcy, who started the game 0-of-4 in the first half, playing only eight minutes due to two quick fouls, rebounded nicely in the second stanza, scoring nine points while chipping in seven boards, six assists and a steal.
The 4-0 start in Patriot League play is the first "true" 4-0 beginning for American as in 2005, the Eagles actually lost its opener at home to Lehigh, but the Mountain Hawks were later forced to forfeit the victory, leading to a program best 4-0 start for AU in conference play.
The Eagles return home to Bender Arena Saturday, Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. vs. Lafayette for their fourth annual "Bender White Out" game. The first 1,500 fans to enter will receive a free commemorative AU Eagles t-shirt courtesy of Comcast SportsNet D.C. & AU Athletics. A limited number of premium location sideline reserved chairback seats still remain and can be purchased by clicking here or calling (202) 885-TIXX.