Five Key Plays: American 76, Loyola 65

American took down Loyola 76-65 on Jan. 11 for its first Patriot League win. Here are five key plays/sequences from the game. 

1. American starts 7-7 from 3-pt range
"The quality of the shot is why I think we shot that well." That's what head coach Mike Brennan said afterward, and the video proves his point. AU used some of its best ball movement to get open looks in rhythm and the result was the Eagles' best shooting game of the year. 

2. American regains large cushion with quick start to second half
Maintaining leads has been a problem for AU, which lost a 10-point advantage vs. Army in the second half in the previous game. After Loyola trimmed AU's first-half lead from 17 to 10, the Eagles came out strong to start the second half and regained the cushion — getting it done on the defensive end.

3. Loyola goes on 11-0 burst to cut lead to seven
American built its lead to 60-42 only to see it quickly chopped to seven points, 60-53. That's what happens when you turn it over on four consecutive possessions, three without Sa'eed Nelson on the floor as he got a quick breather and Stacy Beckton and Marvin Bragg struggled with ballhandling responsibilities. 

4. AU hits two huge 3s to regain footing
Just as it seemed another game might be slipping away from AU and the offense was becoming stagnant, the Eagles used ball movement to hit two huge 3s and regain their footing. 

5. American converts from the FT line to seal it
American has been an awful free-throw shooting team for most of the year and it was for the first 39 minutes again vs. Loyola, but the Eagles finally stepped up and sealed a win by making their last six from the stripe — four by Sa'eed Nelson (65%) and a pair by Larry Motuzis (59%).