American fell to Lehigh 80-78 in overtime on Saturday. Here are five key plays/sequences from the game with an emphasis on many late-game plays that ended up deciding it.
1. A missed layup on one end and a bad foul on the other
This was the kind of sequence that is why American hasn't been able to close out games this season. On one end, Larry Motuzis missed a fastbreak layup that would've extended American's lead to seven. And then CB Diallo fouled Kyle Leufroy on 3 -pointer. He made all three and the lead was down to two. Lehigh would reclaim the advantage after that.
2. Last sequence of regulation
With the game tied, American defended well although the case could be made that Sam Iorio fouled Kahron Ross. Whatever the case, no foul was called and Iorio got the ball to Sa'eed Nelson who had a lot of open court to work with. But Mike Brennan called timeout with 5.6 seconds left. After the timeout, the Eagles settled for a long Nelson 3 that was well off the mark as regulation ended.
3. Sam Iorio's career day
Sam Iorio scored a career-high 30 for the Eagles, including their first eight points in overtime. The freshman has scored in every way for the Eagles, and his output in overtime was no different as he sandwiched twos 3s around a drive and miss and putback.
4. Motuzis shot blocked and Brennan technical
With American down one in the closing minute, Motuzis had his shot blocked cleanly by Lehigh's Pat Andree. As soon as the ball changed possession, Mike Brennan was out a couple feet on the court giving the refs an earful. He was quickly assessed a technical foul, which we were told was for coming out so far and for language. Brennan had this to say after the game: "I probably just overreacted to contact on a drive. But you know — just making sure. It's more watching our guys work, wanting to get a win for them. Refs got a hard job so I'm not upset with them. It's more an overreaction on my part."
5. Wild final sequence
Despite the tech, American got a stop as Ross missed a layup and assistant coach Scott Greenman gestured to Brennan not to call a timeout as Nelson sped downcourt. I think Nelson was moving a little too fast because he knew he had Ross behind him, and it might have caused him to lose the ball. Ross got the steal and Lehigh appeared ready to seal the victory but Caleb Bennett missed a layup with 5 seconds left. CB alertly found Nelson, who got it back to CB for a layup but a second too late. In retrospect, a timeout on either offensive sequence would have been helpful in overtime. Here's what Mike Brennan said afterward: "I trust my guys and their decision-making. That's how we coach. We let them, we give them a lot of freedom and opportunity. So I trust everything that they do."