If the American University basketball team doesn’t look like itself this year, it’s because the Eagles are playing much more zone defense, trying to cover for their primary deficiency – a lack of quickness.

Monday night at Bender Arena, the Eagles had no answer – zone or otherwise – for the offense of San Francisco in a 67-53 loss.

The Dons (2-1) of the West Coast Conference, who won 20 games last year, shot 53 percent from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point range. They also out-rebounded AU 28-19, limiting the Eagles to one offensive rebound.

“They were the aggressor in both halves,” AU coach Jeff Jones said. “It was disappointing in some ways because you kind of find out what your team is made of. When things aren’t going our way, we didn’t respond particularly well.”

American (2-2) fell behind early and got the lead just once – when Austin Carroll’s 3-pointer made it 20-19. In the second half, San Francisco extended its lead behind 6-7 Cole Dickerson (20 points, seven rebounds) and 6-6 junior De’End Parker (19 points), who combined to hit 7 of 10 shots from beyond the arc.

Last year AU could defend such players with 6-5 Troy Brewer and 6-5 Charles Hinkle. But both graduated and the Eagles have fewer defensive options.

“We’re playing more zone basically out of necessity,” Jones said. “The big reason is we don’t have the personnel to be able to play long stretches of man to man.”

American was led by senior guard Daniel Munoz (16 points, four assists), who hit 7 of 9 shots. Senior forward Stephen Lumpkins (13 points) and junior center Tony Wroblicky (eight points) hit a combined 11 of 14 shots, but they didn’t get much help.

Like it did in the first half, San Francisco scored the first six points of the second to grab a 39-31 lead. After that the Eagles went quietly.

“We hung our heads,” Jones said. “In order to beat a quality team like San Francisco, we have to play better over a longer period of time.”