Five key plays: American 86, Boston 74

Here are five key plays/sequences from American’s 86-74 win over Boston to begin Patriot League play.

1. Sa’eed Nelson bounce-back game
After just the eighth single-digit scoring game of his college career and one in which he fouled out vs. GW, Sa’eed Nelson bounced back in a big way with the third-highest scoring game in his 71 as an Eagle (30 points on 11-for-16 shooting). Nelson adroitly picked his spots to attack the rim, beating a variety of young Boston guards as American overcame an early deficit and never looked back.

2. American creates separation to start second half
The sequence was inauspicious — Sam Iorio missed a dunk and then Tyler Scanlon hit a jumper on the other end. Four-point swing; 39-32 game. But American responded extremely well, scoring on five straight trips and sparked by its three big scorers (Nelson, Iorio and Mark Gasperini) to take a 49-35 lead.

3. Sloppy American lets Boston back in the game
Only American could stop itself in this one, and that’s what happened as a 16-point lead dwindled to five. An offensive foul, three sloppy passes, and a travel opened up an opportunity for Boston and the Terriers took advantage to the tune of getting back within five with plenty of time remaining.

4. Three HUGE possessions
Showing signs of maturity and toughness, American responded to BU’s run with three consecutive huge possessions that just about put the game away. Gasperini found Larry Motuzis for a corner 3, Sam Iorio pulled up for a midrange jumper, and then Nelson found Stacy Beckton Jr. in transition. This is the kind of response that’s the difference between throwing away games and closing them out effectively.

5. Stacy Beckton hustle play has the bench celebrating
You can’t see the bench from the video, but I’ve never seen this Eagles team get more excited than after the sophomore hustled to knock the ball off BU. That kind of positive energy can be infectious, and American doesn’t always show it. Nelson followed the steal with a three-point play on the other end to shut the door on the Terriers and give AU its first Patriot League-opening win since 2014.