WASHINGTON (AP) _ Senior guard Nathan Smith returned from a one-game layoff by scoring a season-high 28 points to lift American University to its first win, 72-65 over Loyola College Tuesday night at Bender Arena.
Smith, AU’s leading scorer whose 86-game playing streak ended with the Eagles’ 16-point loss to Texas on Dec. 3, also hit 5 of 12 3-pointers. His scoring total was two points short of his career high.
American (1-5), playing without two starters, led nearly the entire game. But Loyola (1-6) still forced the Eagles to hang on down the stretch in order to bring first-year coach Art Perry his initial win.
Matt Brown’s basket gave AU a 60-51 lead with 3:03 left. But Loyola followed with a 7-0 run and had a chance to tie before Jason Rowe missed a 3-pointer with about 1:30 left.
On the ensuing posession, Smith, falling out of bounds, found Brown (14 points) underneath for a layup and a 63-58 lead with 1:10 remaining. AU then hit 9 of 10 free throws to seal the win.
Mike Powell led Loyola with 25 points, four below his team-high average. The Greyhounds, who shot only 29 percent in the first half as AU built a 35-26 lead, experienced a 7:40 scoring drought between halves while the Eagles crafted a 12-point edge.