- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2002

Memo to American University students, faculty, alumni, fans and friends: Don't make plans to attend the NCAA tournament.
The Patriot League's regular-season champions were blown out by Holy Cross in their home finale yesterday on Senior Day as their five seniors, including starters Keith Gray and Patrick Doctor, saw the Eagles give their worst offensive performance of the season.
And defensively, the Eagles had no answer for Holy Cross junior Tim Szatko. The 6-foot-8 power forward scored a career-high 28 points to lead the Crusaders to a 68-44 romp before a season-high 3,691 at Bender Arena.
Although this was a meaningless game for AU, which clinched the Patriot League regular-season title Wednesday with a 62-50 victory at Navy, this is not the kind of momentum the Eagles want to carry into Saturday's league tournament at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.
The top-seeded Eagles (16-11, 10-4 Patriot) will face No.8 seed Lehigh (4-22, 1-12) at noon in the tournament quarterfinals. The last-place Mountain Hawks blew a 15-point second-half lead while losing to AU last week 70-67.
"We have to make sure we don't have any more outings like [today's} or our season will be ended," said AU second-year coach Jeff Jones.
This game appeared to be over in the first half when Holy Cross opened with a 20-2 run. The misfiring Eagles scored only two points on a breakaway dunk by forward Brian Williams in the first 11:43 and finished the half with just 16 points.
AU tried to play man defense against Szatko, and Holy Cross' leading scorer posted the helpless Eagles to death as the 6-6 Gray and 6-5 Vladimir Buscaglia proved no match for the Crusaders' muscle man. Szatko, who entered averaging 12.7 points, scored 13 in the first half.
"My teammates were making some great post feeds to put me in position to score," Szatko said. "They were also hitting some outside shots to open things in the middle."
The flightless Eagles were hitting nothing in the first half. AU missed 12 of its first 13 shots and spotted Holy Cross a 29-16 halftime lead. The Eagles also turned the ball over 11 times in the first half.
The most disturbing fact about the loss is that Holy Cross and Lafayette AU's chief rivals for the Patriot League tournament championship and automatic NCAA tournament berth have both swept the Eagles this season.
"I don't think this really affects anything,"said Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard. "[The Eagles] are the regular-season champions, they've played well the whole year and they are going in as the favorites, This [kind of letdown] happens a lot on Senior Day teams tend to be a little emotional."


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