My last game of the regular season took me back to Northwest DC, where the American University Eagles were taking on Lafayette in their season finale. It's hard for me to believe that the regular season is over, and championship fortnight is upon us, but alas, here we are. Less than 48 hours earlier, the Eagles dropped a tough contest to Bucknell, one which gave the Bison the Patriot League regular season championship and the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament. The Eagles were looking to rebound, and gain some momentum before the upcoming tournament. As for the Leopards, after starting the season in the upper half of the Patriot League standings, they dropped to 5th place, and will most likely be spending the tournament on the road. However, a win would certainly give them some momentum going into the tournament.
For the second time in two weeks, I witnessed another pre-game senior day ceremony. The Eagles honored five seniors, Tony Brewer, Riley Grafft, Joe Hill, Charles Hinkle, and Simon McCormack. These seniors contributed to over 75 wins over the last four years, including a Patriot League Championship as freshmen. Each was given a nice hand, and was presented with a frame of pictures featuring their career highlights.
Also, it was fan appreciation day at Bender Arena. As a part of the festivities, the school was putting on a white out. As someone who has participated in black outs, red outs, gold outs, and brown outs, I've noticed that it's always best to a) have a large crowd and b) make sure that they all wear the designated color. The promotions staff tried to ensure that letter b was taken care of by offering free white t-shirts to fans as they entered the arena. What was interesting was that there were separate shirts offered to both students attending the game, and fans who purchased a ticket. The problem was that letter a (getting people to show up) proved to be difficult. The student section was maybe half full. I think a contributing factor to this was a student ball that was put on that evening. I give credit to students who showed up dressed for the evening, but I think that it was a contributing factor to the lack of student attendance at the game. As for the rest of the crowd, I was pleasantly surprised. A lot of families were there, taking advantage of a special ticket offer that was made. What's more, they all wore the t-shirts that were distributed (and the student t-shirts that were left over were distributed throughout the crowd), and they were loud from the get-go.
The game itself seemed like much more of a blowout than it actually was. American scored the first seven points of the game, and the lead reached as high as 18 late in the first half. At that point, I figured that the game was over, as the Eagles have played great at home throughout the year, losing only once (their previous game) on their home floor. However, the Leopards charged back, trimming the lead to 14 at the half, and eventually down to ten midway through the second half. At that point, I thought that if they could trim it down to five quickly, this game could get interesting. However, while the Leopards got the lead down to five, they did not leave enough time to complete the comeback (only 18 seconds). Blake Jolivette's lay-up sealed the AU victory, 76-69. Both teams now look to the Patriot League tournament. AU will be seeded 3rd, and will host Navy. Lafayette, seeded 5th, will travel to Holy Cross.
at AMERICAN 76, LAFAYETTE 69 02/25/2012
LAFAYETTE 12-17 (7-7) -- J. Mower 3-8 2-2 10; R. Willen 4-11 8-10 16; R. Delaney 6-13 1-3 14; S. Hinrichs 3-6 1-2 9; D. Trist 3-9 2-2 8; N. Petkovich 3-8 0-0 8; L. Giese 0-3 0-0 0; L. Smith 0-3 2-2 2; J. Pelham 1-1 0-0 2; J. Detmer 0-0 0-0 0; A. Flannigan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-62 16-21 69. AMERICAN 19-10 (10-4) -- C. Hinkle 8-16 4-5 25; T. Brewer 5-8 1-2 13; D. Munoz 2-5 4-6 8; R. Grafft 1-3 0-1 2; B. Jolivette 4-8 1-5 9; S. McCormack 0-4 0-0 0; M. Bersch 3-5 3-5 11; J. Hill 1-2 0-0 3; T. Wroblicky 2-4 1-1 5; D. Fisher 0-0 0-0 0; J. Schoof 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-55 14-25 76.
Three-point goals: LAF 7-28 (R. Delaney 1-5; J. Mower 2-6; N. Petkovich 2-7; R. Willen 0-2; L. Giese 0-2; L. Smith 0-2; S. Hinrichs 2-4), AMER 10-17 (T. Brewer 2-4; C. Hinkle 5-7; J. Hill 1-2; M. Bersch 2-4); Rebounds: LAF 40 (R. Willen 13), AMER 27 (T. Brewer 8); Assists: LAF 10 (S. Hinrichs 4), AMER 14 (D. Munoz 4); Total Fouls -- LAF 22, AMER 22; Fouled Out: LAF-L. Smith; AMER-None.