Ed Sloane helped American overcome a 14-point halftime deficit by scoring 10 second-half points and forward Fernando Aunon finished with a season-high 18 as the Eagles defeated Drexel, 57-55, in an East Coast Conference game last night at Fort Myer.
The Dragons (11-9, 4-1) had been unbeaten in the conference. American is 12-7 and 3-2.
Drexel took advantage of American's 27 percent shooting in the first half. But American shot 72 percent in the final half (13 of 18 shots).
Joe Petrone made three straight jumpers from the key for a 6-1 Drexel lead. His pass on a breakaway to Michael Mitchell led to the next basket, and another shot by Petrone from the key gave the Dragons a 10-3 lead.
Petrone made another long jumper, this time from the base line, to widen the Drexel lead to 26-14. Baskets by Juan Jones, Gordon Austin and two free throws by Mark Nickens cut the Dragons' lead to 26-20 with four minutes remaining. But Drexel made four straight, ending with Richard Congo's shot at the buzzer, for a 34-20 Drexel lead at intermission.
"It wasn't a dramatic halftime scene in the locker room," said American Coach Ed Tapscott. "I told them if you want to get back in the thick of things in the ECC, you have to stop them."
In the second half American switched to full-court man to man and full-court zone pressing. "It was the only way to get back into the game," said Tapscott. "We had to go get them."
After going 0-5 from the field in the first half, Sloane began the rally by scoring eight points in the first seven minutes of the final half. His free throw at 12:16 gave American its first lead of the game at 39-38.
The lead then changed nine times. Aunon's basket at 6:10 gave American the lead for good.
Drexel remained close. Sloane committed his fifth personal when he fouled Mitchell, who made two shots to cut the deficit to 52-51 with a minute left. But clutch free throws by Darnell Swinton and Aunon ended things.
"We're so unpredictable," said Aunon, a 6-foot-7 junior forward. "We can beat Georgetown, then you can see us lose to lesser teams. Sometimes I don't know what AU team will come out of the locker room. I just hope we don't have those kind of halftime meetings anymore."