EASTON, Pa. — Senior Jesse Reed and freshman Delante Jones combined for 46 points and the American University men's basketball team snapped a 10-game losing streak and picked up its first Patriot League win of the season, 81-73, over Lafayette on Wednesday evening.
"This was a good win for us," said head coach Mike Brennan. "We have been working hard in practice over the past few weeks and this game will help with our confidence."
Reed set a new season-best 23 points on 10-of-14 from the floor and 3-of-6 from the outside in 40 minutes. Jones mimicked his teammates offensive output and added six from the free throw line while also playing a full 40 minutes.
Senior Marko Vasic proved to be the 'X factor' as he was the third AU player to score in double digits with a season-best 15 points, including a three-quarter-court buzzer beater to give AU a 35-34 lead at the half. Vasic ended with a team-best six rebounds in 36 minutes of play.
"I think this win is important because it shows the younger guys how hard you have to work to get a win in this league," said Vasic.
Lafayette finished with four players in double figures. Bryce Scott, who had been recovering from an injury had 17 points off the bench. Matt Klinewski had 16, followed by Zach Rufer with 13 and Nick Linder with 10.
American shot 54 percent from the floor and a season-best 65 percent in the second half. The Eagles connected on nine long-distance baskets and made 18-of-19 from the line.
Lafayette shot at least 50 percent in all three categories, but AU's defense forced 15 turnovers leading to 17 points.
American led for nearly 13 minutes of the first half and never trailed by more than a single basket. Monty Boykins scored Lafayette's first basket before Vasic drained his first of two triples in the half. American pushed its lead to five, 17-12, on a layup by Reed with 10:29 left.
Later in the half, Reed once again gave the Eagles a five-point slide on a one-handed drive at 6:21. The hosts tied the score three more times in the first before a three by Rufer with 51 seconds left moved them ahead.
Lafayette thought they had the final possession of the half after a missed three by Reed with 31 ticks left. Linder made a move into the paint, but his shot hit the side of the rim allowing Vasic to pull down the rebound and take three dribbles before launching a straightaway strike through the basket as time expired.
Reed and Jones each netted 11 points in the half with Vasic right behind them with nine.
Despite Lafayette shooting 73 percent from the floor, AU forced 11 turnovers.
American caught fire quickly in the second to extend the lead with a 10-2 run and led 48-36 on a trey by Reed with 16:14 remaining.
Lafayette cut its deficit to a two-possession game (54-50) with a layup in the paint by Paulius Zalys. The Eagles never let their lead diminish below four points and score 12 of their final 14 from the charity stripe.
Junior Charlie Jones added nine points off the bench and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the line.
The 81 points scored is American's largest offensive output since dropping 88 points against the Leopards last season at Bender Arena on Feb. 14.
American will host Holy Cross on Sunday at 1 p.m. on the American Sports Network. The game is the annual 'Phil Bender District Day' and the first 1,000 fans will receive a voucher for a Mike Brennan Bobblehead, presented by GEICO. All bobbleheads will be given out at the end of the contest against Holy Cross.