Five key plays: Lafayette 84, American 79 (OT)

American fell 84-79 to Lafayette in overtime on Saturday, the Eagles’ third straight loss. See below for five key plays/sequences from the game.

1. American turns it over 11 times in the first half
Lafayette is not known for turning teams over, and the evidence here is in the video — the Leopards didn’t cause these miscues; American simply made them. The Eagles gave the ball away more times in the first half (11) than made field goals (10).

2. Paulius Zalys works American bigs
Mike Brennan said afterward that Lafayette big man Myles Cherry being out hurt AU because it meant hybrid five man Paulius Zalys for the Leopards. Zalys was just that against AU, scoring over smaller Eagles when that was the matchup and shooting over AU’s bigs when they were on him. He finished with a game-high 21 points. “Cherry being out actually hurt us because he’s sort of more a traditional center,” Brennan said, “so we’ve got (Mark) Gasperini and Josh (Alexander) playing more of a four man making them uncomfortable on the perimeter.”

3. Josh Alexander sparks American comeback
The Eagles’ freshman big man continued to show strides and was the spark as American came back from a nine-point, second-half deficit. Alexander scored in the post, made a 3 (he’s now 2-3 on the season), and was active on the offensive glass. He tied his career-high with 12 points and played most of the big minutes late at the five.

4. Sam Iorio ties it up
The Sa’eed Nelson-Sam Iorio pick-and-pop has been one of American’s simplest yet most effective sets all season and it worked again with the Eagles down three (after a beautiful Iorio-to-Larry Motuzis backdoor got it to 69-66). What’s impressive about Iorio’s game-tying shot is how quickly he pump-faked, got his feet set, squared his body to the basket, and then buried the 3. On the other end, Lafayette appeared to have a game-winner, but Justin Jaworski hadn’t re-established himself inbounds before swishing a corner shot. Thus, the game went to overtime.

5. American can’t stop fouling in overtime
After a putback to start the extra session, Lafayette scored the final 13 points at the free-throw line with the majority of its trips coming off reach-ins and other silly fouls by American. As you can see from the video, it just about drove Mike Brennan crazy. In Patriot League games, American is now worst at sending opponents to the line with a free-throw rate of 37%.