With less than two minutes left in American University’s 74-52 victory over Navy on Wednesday, Jesse Reed collected a pass in the right corner and let the ball fly. The way things have gone for the Eagles during this startling season — and for Reed in the last few games — most at Bender Arena knew what would happen.
Reed’s sixth three-pointer capped the finest game in his two seasons — a career-high 28 points on 8-of-10 shooting — and capped AU’s 10th consecutive triumph.
Picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Patriot League, the Eagles (13-7, 9-0) completed the first half of the conference campaign with another torrid shooting performance and forged their longest winning streak since a 13-game run five years ago.
Reed, a 6-foot-5 guard who averaged 3.7 points as a freshman, scored at least 20 points for the third consecutive game and improved his accuracy in the past eight days to 21 of 29 from the field and 13 of 19 on three-pointers.
“It’s pretty incredible,” senior forward Tony Wroblicky said. “He’s getting threes, back-door cuts. He’s very efficient on offense. It’s just great to see him flow like this the past couple games.”
Reed is not the only one.
The Eagles, who began the week fourth in the nation in field goal percentage at 50.7 percent, shot 53.8 percent — the seventh time in nine conference games they have made more than half of their attempts. Last week they hit a program-record 71 percent against league favorite Boston University and 55 percent at Army.
With eight three-pointers on 19 tries, they are now 29 of their past 53 from long distance (55 percent).
Reed made two early three-pointers and hit 6 of 8 overall.
“It helps knowing teammates know where to find you,” he said. “We share the ball very well, and with all of the penetration, it frees it on the perimeter.”
Coach Mike Brennan echoed that theme, saying: “He is also the recipient of good plays by everyone else. He is open a lot. A lot of it is making open shots. . . . We have other guys who can make a shot, so it’s hard to key on one guy.”
AU’s other long-range shooter, John Schoof, did not make a field goal but contributed six of the team’s 16 assists (on 21 field goals). Kyle Kager and Darius Gardner added 11 points apiece and Wroblicky had eight points, 16 rebounds — one shy of his career best — and four blocked shots.
Navy Coach Ed DeChellis was impressed.
“It’s the speed that they do it, it’s the crispness that they do it,” he said of AU’s Princeton offense. “They are very good passers and we really can’t simulate in practice what we are going to see out there.”
AU never trailed and ended the first half with a 16-1 surge for a 37-17 lead. Zach Elcano, a 6-11 sophomore center from Westfield High, made a turnaround 15-footer at the buzzer.
Navy, the league’s worst shooting team, did not make a field goal in the last six minutes against the Patriot’s best defense and finished 6 of 25 in the half (37 percent overall).
The Eagles will seek their 11th straight victory Saturday afternoon against visiting Holy Cross (12-9, 6-3).