YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Junior Jalen Rhea nailed the game-winning three-pointer with 2:15 remaining and sealed the contest with two free throws to aid the American University men's basketball team to a 60-56 victory over Youngstown State on Friday evening.
American improves its record to 2-5 and snaps Youngstown State's four-game winning streak. The Penguins are now 4-5 overall.
"It was a great win for the guys," said head coach Mike Brennan. "Coming off the loss on Tuesday, the team worked hard during practice and it showed."
Senior Jesse Reed led all scorers with 20 points and made three of his four three-pointers in the second half. Freshman James Washington heated up and scored all of his nine points in the final frame. Rhea and senior Marko Vasic each contributed eight points in the win.
"The freshmen played well and Jesse took some big charges and did what a senior leader does," said Brennan. "Jalen opened up the zone in the second half and made big shots."
"It was great to play in front of family and friends," said Rhea, who had over 20 members of his extended family in the audience.
American shot 43 percent from the floor, which included eight trifectas and four free throws. The Eagles defense forced 13 turnovers and grabbed 20 of 27 rebounds.
American jumped out to a 7-4 lead 2:42 into play on a three by Reed. The Penguins went on a 15-5 run over an eight-minute span and led 30-20 on a jumper by Francisco Santiago. Brett Frantz regained the double-digit lead to give the hosts a 32-22 lead at the break.
The feisty Eagles turned the corner and started the second with their own 14-4 run capped off by a trey from Washington with 13:38 left to give AU a 38-36 advantage.
Midway through the second, the contest moved into a see-saw battle with the score within one possession for nine minutes until Reed smashed a deep three to put the Eagles ahead 58-54.
YSU had a chance to take the lead late, but a missed three by Bobby Hain forced the Penguins to foul the rest of the way.
Matt Donlan and Cameron Morse netted 12 points for the Penguins. Morse returned after missing the last two games and was a bench spark for his squad. Hain had eight points and seven rebounds.
The Pens shot 44 percent from the field with six 3-point baskets and two free throws.
American will conclude its six-game road trip at Wagner on Sunday at 2 p.m.