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Patriot League tournament: American beats Colgate in quarterfinals

American's Stephen Lumpkins slams in two of his 19 points ahead of Colgate's Nick Pascale in the Eagles' 69-53 win in the Patriot League tournament quarterfinals. (Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post)
American's Stephen Lumpkins slams in two of his 19 points ahead of Colgate's Nick Pascale in the Eagles' 69-53 win in the Patriot League tournament quarterfinals. (Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 3, 2011; 12:28 AM

It is not his poor performance in last year's Patriot League tournament. Nor is it because he is a senior and every game could be his last game.

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There is only one thing motivating American senior forward Vlad Moldoveanu these days: He wants to win a championship.

On Wednesday night at Bender Arena, with the second-seeded Eagles struggling to put away the No. 7 seed Colgate in the Patriot League tournament quarterfinal game, Moldoveanu made sure his team's season didn't come to a premature end. He scored 31 points to lead American to a 69-53 victory over the Raiders, the second consecutive game he has scored at least 30 points and his fifth 30-point game this season.

"Obviously, Vlad had just a fantastic game," American Coach Jeff Jones said. "There were several times when it was the kind of 'no, no, nice shot' moments, but he felt it. And I think when a great player has that feeling that he had out there, you just try to go with it, you try to ride it. He was outstanding."

American (22-8) advances to the semifinals to play sixth-seeded Lafayette, a 77-70 winner over No. 3 Holy Cross, on Sunday at Bender Arena.

The Eagles certainly had history on their side coming into this game. Not only had American never lost in the quarterfinal round of the Patriot League tournament, it also was 12-0 against Colgate at home.

But the outcome of this game never appeared as inevitable as those stats made it seem. Colgate (7-23) kept the game close, too close for American's comfort. With seven minutes remaining, the Eagles' lead was only five points.

"At the end there, we huddled up and were like, 'We've got to do it now. Let's put the game away,'" said Stephen Lumpkins, who had 19 points and 15 rebounds.

That's when Moldoveanu sank the shot that turned the game. The shot clock was in single digits, and Nick Hendra was dribbling the ball near the top of the key with seemingly nowhere to go.

"I was like, 'Nick, Nick, just pass me the ball,' " Moldoveanu said. "I like to take that role. I want to make that shot."

Moldoveanu made the three-pointer just ahead of the buzzer, pumping his fist in delight. That basket began an 18-4 run by American that sealed the win. The first-team all-league selection scored 10 of the Eagles' points during that stretch. He certainly erased the memories of his last appearance in this tournament when he made only 1 of 4 shots for two points in the 79-57 semifinal loss to Lehigh.

"The guys did a great job of finding me open, setting good screens," said Moldoveanu who went 11 of 19 from the floor, including 4 of 6 from three-point range. "It wasn't just me. The coaches did a great job of calling plays for me. It was just a team effort tonight."

l LEHIGH 87, NAVY 75: C.J. McCollum scored 25 points and the fourth-seeded Mountain Hawks (16-14) pulled away from the fifth-seeded Midshipmen (11-20) in a Patriot League quarterfinal game in Bethlehem, Pa.

Greg Brown led Navy with 17 points.


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