- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 3, 2002

During the days before the Patriot League tournament, American University's players spent whatever time they could before and after practice and even late at night shooting, lifting weights and working on anything to better prepare themselves for their run as the tournament's top seed.
Yesterday AU played with the poise and execution of a team primed to gain its first NCAA tournament berth, using a deluge of first-half 3-pointers to take control against eighth-seeded Lehigh in an 82-69 victory at Show Place Arena.
AU advanced to today's 5 p.m. semifinal against fifth-seeded Lafayette, which defeated Colgate 74-71 and beat the Eagles twice this season by a combined eight points. Holy Cross faces Bucknell, which defeated Army 70-59, in the other semifinal at 7:30.
No.7 seed Navy did not fare so well, recording its lowest point total since 1979 and the lowest total in the 12-year history of the Patriot League tournament in a 59-41 loss to second-seeded Holy Cross. The ugly loss put a merciful end to a forgettable season for Navy (10-20), its worst under 10th-year coach Don DeVoe, who again failed to notch his 500th victory.
Glenn Stokes led American with a career-high 23 points, but the Eagles won with a balanced effort in which five players scored in double figures. The Eagles made 12 of 23 3-point attempts for the game but did most of their damage in the first half (9-for-12).
"Everybody was confident shooting the ball," Stokes said. "With a lot of repetitions, you become more confident. When everybody hits shots, they play better on defense and get loose balls."
AU had reason to be wary of Lehigh, which had won in the first round of the past three Patriot League tournaments, including two upsets, and nearly beat AU at Bender Arena on Feb.16 before falling by three points. But shooting guard Matt Logie, who had 33 in that game, was held to 20 points, just seven in the first half.
Naturally, the Mountain Hawks (5-23) were focused on stopping league player of the year Patrick Doctor, which in turn created scoring opportunities for his teammates. Guard Andres Rodriguez, hardly known for his scoring, seized his chance first, collecting eight of his team's first nine points.
AU coach Jeff Jones said he had encouraged Rodriguez in practice to become more aggressive because with teams bent on stopping Doctor, he would have opportunities to score. Though Rodriguez scored only two points after the first five minutes, he made his mark.
With Lehigh leading 15-14 with 12:30 left in the first half, the Eagles started raining in 3-pointers. First, Nick Boyd connected. Then reserve guard Demek Adams. Then Boyd again and Vladimir Buscaglia hit for a 26-17 lead. After two two-point field goals, another string of three 3-pointers finished the 25-7 run for a 39-22 advantage with 4:56 left in the first half.
AU won with sharp shooting but also made the hustle plays, particularly on the boards, where the Eagles outrebounded Lehigh 38-33. Doctor, who suffered a cut over his left eye that needed a small bandage, had a game-high 14 rebounds to go with his 11 points. He said his sight was only slightly impaired.
"I was more worried that our guys were over-ready," Jones said. "Our guys were so excited about playing, I thought we could come out of the gates and try to hit a home run on the first pitch."
Navy, however, struck out. With Jehiel Lewis, the Mids' leading scorer, out with the lingering effects of a concussion suffered Feb. 9 against Lehigh, Navy struggled to put together any consistent offense.
"It was a bad game from my perspective, except when it ended," DeVoe said. "This was the toughest year yet at Navy."
Navy shot a grisly 30.2 percent from the field and had 17 turnovers. Given the Mids' offensive woes, a healthy Lewis would have helped but likely would not have changed the outcome.
Tim Szatko, last season's Patriot Player of the Year, scored a game-high 19 points and had nine rebounds for Holy Cross (16-14). Jason Jeanpierre scored 11 points to lead Navy.


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