American downs Army 68-55

American University vaulted to an 11-1 early lead and never trailed as it coasted to a convincing 68-55 victory over the Black Knights in Army's home finale. Army finishes its Patriot League season winless at home and falls to 1-11 in the 2005-2006 campaign.

American began the game by exploiting its significant advantage down low. 6'11" Paulius Joneliunas scored the Eagles' first 4 points. Brayden Billbe also added a 12-foot jumper, and American's other members of its Lithuanian contingent, Arvydas Eitutavicius and Linas Lekavicius, contributed field goals to lead American to an 11-1 advantage. Freshman Doug Williams scored the first field goal for Army, but American freshman Derrick Mercer swished a corner trey to give American a 14-3 lead.

Army then went on a 6-0 tear, but American answered a Billbe dunk and an Eitutavicius layup to double Army's output, 18-9, with 8 minutes left. At this point, co-captain Matt Bell really started to heat up. He scored Army's next 10 points in less than 3 minutes, and only another Joneliunas inside layup maintained a slim 20-19 lead for American with 5 minutes left. However, that was as close as the Black Knights would get to a lead all night. American sandwiched 9 points around 2 more free throws from Matt Bell to extend their lead to 29-21. Freshman Dan Borcherdt hit a trey, but then American's leading scorer, Andre Ingram, converted a rare 4-point play that really let the wind out of Army's sales. Borcherdt hit another 3-pointer and the halftime score was 35-27, American.

Army has had difficulty at the start of second halves all season long, and this game was no different. Jarell Brown scored a 3-pointer early on, but y the time John Moonshower added Army's second field goal of the half, 8 minutes had passed, and American had built up a 20-point lead, 50-30, by then. The rest of the game saw teams play a lot of subs from both benches. When American freshman, Jordan Nichols, sank a turnaround jumper with a little over 6 to play, American had built their lead up to 64-38. The rest of the game saw extensive garbage time from both sides. Army showed some positives during this period, but it was too littel, too late, and the Eagles exited Christl Arena with a 13-point win.

The major force behind American's victory was freshman Derrick Mercer. The Jersey City native wrecked havoc on the Army guards while on defense, led his own team in scoring with 19 points, and was basically unstoppable. Brayden Billbe and Paulius Joneliunas added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Army was led by Matt Bell with 14. The biggest surprise of the game was Kenny Brewer. The confident freshman still makes some mistakes, but he contributed 11 points and played tough the entire game. Freshman Brandon Brandewie saw rare action, and actually scored 2 points, too.

Army plays its final 2 league contests before the Patriot League tournament on the road. Their first is a very tough road contest against Lafayette in Easton on Wednesday, Feb 22, at 7 pm. Their final tuneup is against their probably 1st round matchup in the Patriot League tourney, the powerful Bucknell Bison. Army will need an "Olympic Miracle-like" performances to take one of these last 2 games.


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