- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2002

ANNAPOLIS With a little more than two minutes remaining in the Navy-American game last night at Alumni Hall, it was announced over the public address system that Holy Cross had lost to Bucknell.
If AU could hold onto the nine-point lead it held at the time, the Eagles would clinch the Patriot League regular-season crown. Shortly after the announcement, though, Navy's Jehiel Lewis canned a 3-pointer to make it a six-point game.
But AU was not to be denied. The Eagles forced two crucial turnovers in the final minutes to help seal a 62-50 victory and the Patriot title in their first season in the league.
AU was picked sixth in the eight-team league in the preseason, and the Eagles used that prediction as motivation. They put a punctuation mark on their quest with this victory, rendering Saturday's meeting with Holy Cross meaningless.
The quarterfinals and semifinals of the Patriot League tournament are at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, and the highest remaining seed hosts the championship game.
"It's great. I'm happy, especially for the players," said AU coach Jeff Jones, who added that he didn't realize Holy Cross had lost until the final seconds.
When the two teams last met, they were tied for first place in the Patriot at 4-2. Since then, American (16-10, 10-3) has won four of five while Navy (10-18, 5-8) struggled, losing four of five to fall out of contention.
There was reason to believe the Mids could have reversed their fortunes against AU, most notably because it was Senior Night and the Mids had another chance to get coach Don DeVoe his 500th victory.
None of this helped as AU methodically dispatched the Mids with a long-range barrage and some smothering man-to-man defense, then hung on despite a sloppy finish.
Patrick Doctor, who averaged 28 points in his last three outings, scored game highs of 19 points, including 7-for-8 at the free throw line, and 10 rebounds. Steven Miles and Glenn Stokes each added 12 points. Just as important as Stokes' offense was his and the Eagles guards' defense Navy's guards committed 10 turnovers.
"[The Eagles] always kept their composure and found a way to make a big basket," said Lewis. Mitch Moore and Scott Long led Navy with 10 points each.
The Eagles made six of their first 11 3-point shots against Navy's 2-3 zone defense, looking quite prepared for an alignment they have seen often this season. At one point midway through the first half, AU mounted a 16-4 run to turn a 15-11 deficit into a 27-19 lead, and all its field goals came on 3-pointers. Reserve forward Nick Boyd found his stroke, hitting three from long range in the stretch to help AU lead 29-23 at the half.
AU made four of its first five field goals to jump to a 19-point lead early in the second half, Navy whittled the deficit to seven in the final minutes. But a rash of turnovers and missed shots foiled the comeback attempt, and AU made 17 of 20 free throws in the second half.


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