Dec. 22, 2007
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The American University men's basketball team defeated the Maryland Terrapins for the first time in 80 years and 14 meetings when they shocked UMD, 67-59, Saturday at the Comcast Center.
The Eagles and the Terps have met 15 times prior to today's meeting. Maryland had won the last 14 meetings, after AU opened the series in 1927 - the Eagles first-ever season of basketball - with a 21-16 win.
Derrick Mercer had 18 points, Bryce Simon 17 points and Brian Gilmore added 12 points for the Eagles' biggest win since AU defeated Florida State on Dec. 22, 2001. In that game, the Eagles became the first-ever Patriot League team to defeat an ACC school. American is still the only PL school to take down an ACC power, and now they've done it twice.
"I'm happy for the players and for our school," Head Coach Jeff Jones said. "It will certainly make [the holidays] more fun."
Maryland jumped out to an 8-2 lead 3:30 into the game, staggering the Eagles, but Simon hit a three-pointer to make it a two point game. Then, at 11-7 in favor of Maryland, both teams went scoreless over the next 7:20. Mercer hit a three-pointer at the 6:27 mark, making it a one-point game, then Gilmore canned a layup just 21 seconds later to give AU its first lead. After a three-pointer by Garrison Carr, American had a four-point lead, 15-11, with 5:12 left in the first.
However, the Terrapins then went on a 6-0 run, finished with a pair of free throws by Landon Milbourne with 3:49 remaining in the first that gave UMD a 17-15 lead.
The Eagles again took that punch, and responded with a 10-3 run to end the period, punctuated by a layup with two seconds remaining from Mercer, to give the Eagles a 25-20 halftime lead. It was the 11th time in 12 games AU led at the half.
The Eagles held Maryland to just 21 percent (5-of-24) in the first half and outrebounded the Terrapins in the opening period, 23-18.
American was poised and ready to open the second period when they scored five of the first six points to grab a 30-21 lead. The lead bounced back-and-forth between five and 12 points for the remainder of the game. Every time it seemed the Terrapins would launch a comeback, American would respond with another huge shot. When Eric Hayes hit a three-pointer with 15:53 left to make it a five-point game, Simon hit a three-pointer in response.
"Bryce has been coming along," Jones said. "He liked some of the matchups he was able to get." Simon finished with a career-high 17 points.
Then again with 14 minutes left, Greivis Vasquez hit one of his five second-half threes, but Mercer again hit a three to make it another eight-point game.
With 48 seconds left, Vasquez hit another three-pointer to make it a five-point game, but the Eagles proceeded to hit seven-of-eight free throws in the last 43 seconds to seal the win.
"We're getting better, but we can't be satisfied," Jones said. "I hope they enjoy it and it will build confidence."
The Eagles finished the game with 40 rebounds to the Terrapins 33, while outscoring UMD off turnovers, 24-12. AU also outscored Maryland in the paint, 22-14.
American returns to action next Saturday, Dec. 29, when they visit Georgetown at the Verizon Center for a 1 p.m. tip. The Eagles are celebrating the 25th anniversary of defeating the fifth-ranked Hoyas on Dec. 15, 1982.