Holy cross

The Eagles disarm the Crusaders of the Holy Cross 67-49

Like their namesake, the Crusaders of the Holy Cross (3-15) were kicked out of Bender Arena on Wednesday.

The American University men’s basketball team (6-13) edged their opponents 67-49 in one of the Eagles’ best performances of the season.

The Eagles were aggressive from the cue and attacked the paint unhindered by Holy Cross’ efforts to stop them. UA second year Colin Petits led the Eagles offensively. Smalls beat his defenseman time and time again, turned defense into offense, attacked the basket and finished the game with a team-high 16 points.

Smalls’ performance set the tone early on, and he was complimented by other AU top scorers. Senior Josh Alexander came off the bench early in the game and devastated Holy Cross’ interior defense with his patented cradle hook, also finishing the game with 16 points. The pair’s exit quickly wiped out a Crusaders lead early in the first half, and AU were in control for most of the game. Alexander said after the game, the Eagles’ success was a team effort.

“They gave me the ball in the right places” alexander said of his teammates. “They gave me the opportunity to work low.”

UA’s aggressive play did not diminish in the second half, and UA’s second-year striker matt rogers and senior guard Stacy Beckton Jr. also got involved in the goalscoring assault. Beckton Jr. had a quiet night against Lafayette Jan. 24 shot 20 percent from the field, but the senior guard played with vengeance on Wednesday, finishing with 14 points and two blocks.

Rogers also played well, extending his hot streak after a great game against Lafayette, and the 6’9 forward played the game with a ferocious intensity that manifested in a throaty scream every time he spoke on the ground. The second finished with eight points, four rebounds and two rim-shaking dunks.

Rogers has made his presence on the pitch known this season. The second has started 12 games this season, is third on the team in the rating and second bouncing. AU Head Coach Mike Brenan said Rogers’ game has grown this season.

“It’s just experience” Brnan said. “He plays with a lot of emotion and physicality. So as long as he can keep moving forward, improve technically and always bring that energy, that’s what he does and we will need it. him.

The combined effort of UA’s starting lineup and the efforts of first-year goaltender Elijah Stephens, who finished with seven points off the bench, methodically built a lead the Crusaders could not overcome. As Holy Cross cut the deficit to five with around 14 minutes left in the second half, AU continued to pour on the offense.

However, it was the Eagles’ defense and care with the basketball that secured victory for AU. AU returned the ball 11 times to Holy Cross’ 13 and gave up just 10 points on turnovers. Eagles struggling with turnover against Lafayette on Jan. 24, and Brennan said the team made some pre-game adjustments to better protect the ball. However, Brennan said he wants his team to stay aggressive.

“I’m not crazy to tell them not to return the ball,” Brennan said. “We have to give them a hard time, but can we recognize situations a little earlier and be a little more discerning? We talk about it a bit, but I don’t like to go too far in that direction.

The Eagles also stopped the Crusaders offense in every round, kept the Crusaders 30% from the field, 14% from three points, blocked six shots and kept all but one of the Crusaders within 10 points. .

“It was good to get a home win,” Beckton Jr. said. “It gives you a little confidence.

The Crusaders’ frustration showed in their head coach Brett Nelson. Nelson yelled at his players from the bench throughout the game, shouting “Emergency!” during the first half as Bender Arena was seemingly quiet. Nelson also bickered with the officials and, despite repeated warnings to stop challenging their officiating, received a technical foul late in the second half.

Brennan said he was happy with AU’s performance after the match.

“We needed it,” Brennan said. “It was a tough time, but I think our guys have been playing well and improving in the areas we ask them to improve on.”

The Eagles are back on the road for their next game. UA faced Navy on January 29 and lost 45-47 and takes on Lafayette on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 2 p.m. EST.

bmorse@theeagleonline.com


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