WASHINGTON, D.C. - American University used a 10-0 run at the start of the second half to pull away to a 66-54 win over Howard University in a non-conference men's basketball game at Bender Arena.
The Eagles (5-4) led 34-30 at the intermission and then reeled off 10 straight points in the first six minutes to open a 44-30 advantage. Jeron Smith scored on a steal and layup to stop the bleeding momentarily, but the die was already cast.
"We missed some shots and the pressure of playing on the road affected our play," said Howard Coach Gil Jackson.
The Bison (3-6) came out with a lot of energy, taking an early 11-3 lead. American University regrouped following a timeout and proceeded to take the lead before the game settled into a contest of back and forth lead changes.
Eugene Myatt kept the Bison in contention as he scored 14 of his team's first half points. Following some halftime adjustments, however, Myatt would score only 8 points in the second half, making only two field goals.
"They guarded me a lot tighter in the second half," explained Myatt, who rebounded from a poor performance against Hampton in which he scored only seven points. "They did not let me get a lot of clean looks at the basket."
Added Coach Jackson, "They tightened up on Eugene in the second half. We have to find scoring from other players, especially in the post area."
The Bison got an outstanding effort from senior guard Jeron Smith, who tallied 12 points, including two high-flying breakway dunks following two of his career-best four steals. But it was on the defensive end where Smith had one of his best efforts, limiting the Eagles' leading scorer Derrick Mercer to only 9 points, 8 under his average.
"Jeron did a great job of not letting him (Mercer) control the game," noted Jackson. "The problem was that their jump shooters got hot and we didn't close out." The Eagles shot almost 50 percent (7 of 15) from beyond the arc with reserves Garrison Carr (team-high 17 points) and Brian Gilmore (11 points) combining for 5 of 8 from there.
Howard's inability to come back stemmed from foul trouble with its post players. Forwards Kandi Mukole and Adam Walker and centers Paul Kirkpatrick and Nate Cooper all got into foul trouble early and contributed little in the second half.
"That's a quickness factor," explained Coach Jackson. "Guys were a step behind. They need more experience." Mukole, Cooper and Kirkpatrick are sophomores and Walker is a freshman.
Jackson offered his analysis of the Bison's second straight loss.
"We were embarrassed in New York on Saturday," he said. "I thought the guys came out a little tougher. We're still learning how tough it is to win at this level. We are also learning about mental toughness."
The Bison will continue their basketball education on Saturday when they travel to Lexington, VA where they face the Keydets of Virginia Military Institute for a 1 pm tipoff.