WASHINGTON — Delante Jones led a second-half comeback and finished with 19 points to lead the American University men's basketball team to its first win of the season, 57-50, over Western Illinois on Tuesday night at Bender Arena.
With the win, head coach Mike Brennan recorded his 50th career win as coach of the Eagles.
American (1-5) trailed by nine at the break and led a 15-4 run to started the second and outscored the Leathernecks 40-24 in the final 20 minutes.
Jones shot 7-of-15 from the field with six rebounds and three assists.
Sa'eed Nelson and Mark Gasperini also finished in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Nelson — the reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Week — had five steals, four rebounds, and two assists in 40 minutes. Gasperini fouled out in 27 minutes but added eight rebounds.
The Eagles outrebounded the Leathernecks 38-29 and scored 26 points in the paint.
AU led 8-0 forcing Western Illinois to call an early timeout. The Leathernecks battled back and took the lead on an 11-2 run at 9:54. The Leathernecks took a 10-point lead 24-14 with 1:20 left.
The visitors shot 45 percent from the field in the opening half with seven free throws. AU shot 29 percent. American took a 27-26 lead on a jumper by Gasperini with 17:38 left. WIU tied the game 39-all with 10:16 remaining before Jones gave American the lead for the rest of the night. The guests cut it to 49-48 on a free throw by Jabari Sandifer before a tip-in by Matt Cimino sealed the contest.
Western Illinois was led by Garret Covington with a game-high 20 points, shooting 7-of-13 from the field in 34 minutes.
American heads across the District to Howard for a 4 p.m. contest on Saturday.
WIU Press Conference With Mike Brennan and Delante Jones
Western Illinois at American Postgame Highlights, Presented by GEICO