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Patriot Men

AU Uses Overtime To Beat Navy

Eagles' Dominance Reaches 11 Games

By Jon Gallo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 5, 2005; Page D06

LEWISBURG, Pa., March 4 -- American University's mastery of Navy continued, but not by much.

Sophomore guard Linas Lekavicius's layup with 4.7 seconds remaining gave the Eagles an 85-83 overtime victory Friday in a Patriot League tournament quarterfinal at Bucknell University.

Navy had forced overtime when guard Corey Johnson made a long three-pointer as time expired in regulation.

Lekavicius's play lifted the Eagles to their 11th consecutive victory over Navy, dating from 1991, but only after David Hooper's three-pointer from the right wing fell well short after he was hit on the arm by Matej Cresnick. No foul was called.

Third-seeded American (16-11) will face second-seeded Bucknell (20-9) here in Sunday's semifinals. Navy (8-19) suffered a season-ending loss in the tournament quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive season.

After Hooper tied the score at 83 with 33 seconds remaining, Lekavicius dribbled around the perimeter before driving to the basket. He spun past David Rhoiney for a layup that gave American its 17th victory over the Midshipmen in the teams' past 18 meetings since 1988.

"He's our best one-on-one player and the only guy, quite honestly, who can put the ball on the floor," American Coach Jeff Jones said. "We weren't going to run a set play."

After Lekavicius (12 points, game-high six assists) delivered, Navy worked the ball to Hooper, who had already made five three-pointers and scored 17 points. But Hooper's 26-footer never had a chance after his arm was hit by Cresnick, prompting Navy Coach Billy Lange to criticize the official before walking off the court.

"I felt I got hit, but that's the way it goes," Hooper said.

Lekavicius's play ended what would have been an impressive comeback by the Midshipmen. After trailing 42-35 at intermission, Navy opened the second half on a 17-8 run to take a 52-50 lead before there were six ties and 11 lead changes in the final 12 minutes 14 seconds of regulation.

After guard Jason Thomas's free throw gave American a 77-74 lead with 18 seconds remaining, Johnson turned over the ball with 11 seconds left.

However, American's Andre Ingram (13 points) missed two free throws with 9.2 seconds remaining, and Johnson redeemed himself by making a 23-foot three-pointer from the top of the key as time expired to tie the score at 77.

In overtime, Cresnick, who scored a career- and game-high 30 points -- including five three-pointers -- scored on a short jump shot that gave the Eagles an 81-80 lead with 1:08 to go. Johnson followed with a miss, and Lekavicius made a layup while being fouled -- he missed the free throw -- to extend the lead to 83-80.

Hooper tied the score for the final time with a three-pointer from the top of the key, setting the stage for Lekavicius to send the Eagles into the semifinals for the fourth consecutive season.

Last year American lost to Lehigh, 59-57, in the tournament final.

Entering overtime, "we were confident as a team that we could play good defense because we'd proven that throughout the game," Cresnick said. "We're fortunate to advance."

LEHIGH 77, COLGATE 60: Junior guard Joe Knight made 10 three-pointers and scored 45 points -- both tournament records -- as the fourth-seeded Mountain Hawks (14-14) downed the fifth-seeded Red Raiders (12-16) in Worcester, Mass. Knight broke the previous tournament record of 43 points set by Rod Feaster of Holy Cross in 1994 and Mark Lueking of Army in 1995. Seth Schaeffer's record of seven three-pointers for Colgate had stood since 1998.

HOLY CROSS 76, ARMY 42: Kevin Hamilton scored 16 points as the top-seeded Crusaders (23-5), at home, won their 15th straight game.

BUCKNELL 70, LAFAYETTE 34: Charles Lee had 19 points and 11 rebounds as the host Bison advanced easily.

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