Five key plays: Colgate 83, American 81 (OT)

American lost to Colgate 83-81 in overtime Saturday, falling to 13-12, 7-7 in the Patriot League with four games to play. It was American’s second straight home loss by two points. See below for five key plays/sequences from the game.

1. American sets the tone with defense and rebounds
Colgate came into the game a top-three team in the Patriot League on the offensive glass, but the Raiders didn’t collect a single ORB in the first half on 15 misses. American also blocked five shots in the half, as the Eagles defended well and didn’t give up any second-chance opportunities. Six different players had at least two rebounds during the half for the Eagles.

2. Jordan Burns is a bad man
We knew it would be a great matchup of point guards coming in, and it didn’t disappoint. Jordan Burns had struggled in his first two games back from a leg injury, but the Colgate sophomore found his shot against Sa’eed Nelson and the Eagles with six 3s, including four in the first half to keep the Raiders close. A couple of the 3s were from far out, but he got too many open looks for American’s liking. The Eagles lost him in space and he was able to get his feet set and knock down the shots. Burns-created offense is basically all Colgate had going for it most of the first half.

3. American gets late shot-clock offense
Colgate plays at the slowest pace in the Patriot League, and the Raiders dictated the tempo most of the afternoon. The result was late-shot clock situations on both ends. American found a way to score on three occasions in the second half with the clock ticking down — a Sam Iorio step-back jumper, a Larry Motuzis corner 3 (he’s got a penchant for hitting big shots late), and then a Stacy Beckton Jr. 3 when Colgate went under a Mark Gasperini screen. Beckton is up to 39.5% from 3 this year, including making eight of his last 16 from deep.

4. Colgate reserve completes comeback
Francisco Amiel entered Saturday’s game shooting 25% from 3 on the year. He hadn’t made a 3 since January. But Amiel was on the floor in the last minute and made all the difference for the Raiders. First, he poked the ball out from a driving Gasperini and then saved it, and on the following possession he knocked in a game-tying corner 3 with 26 seconds left. Sometimes you just have to say, Wow, OK, we didn’t see that coming. American clearly didn’t expect such things from Colgate’s sixth-best outside shooter.

5. Rapolas Ivanauskas dominates overtime
Late in the game, Colgate coach Matt Langel started going to a smaller lineup with versatile big man Rapolas Ivanauskas at the center position. This made things difficult for Gasperini, who had to try to defend the 40% 3-point shooter on the perimeter. Ivanauskas was the difference-maker in overtime, score all three of Colgate’s field goals and nine of his 19 in the extra session. He hit a mid-range jumper, he drove Gasperini to the rim and scored off his own miss, and then he knocked in a dagger 3 with the shot clock winding down. ”He can move, he can make plays so that’s a challenge for Mark,” Mike Brennan said afterward. “It’s something that we didn’t too a ton of in practice with Mark so now especially with Lafayette coming up, the same thing happened at our place (with Paulius Zalys). We’ve got to make sure we address that.”