Preview: American basketball hosts Lafayette in Patriot League semifinals

Saturday, March 5, 2011; 6:38 PM

What: Patriot League men's basketball tournament semifinals.

Where: Bender Arena.

When: 5 p.m.

TV: CBS College Sports.

Radio: WZAA (1050 AM).

Records: No. 2 seed Eagles 22-8; No. 6 Leopards 12-18.

Outlook: If history is any indication, American should have no trouble reaching its third conference championship game in four years and its sixth overall. The Eagles have won 14 in a row against Lafayette and are 4-0 against the Leopards in the Patriot League tournament. Plus, the higher seeds are 39-1 in the Patriot League semifinals. However, Lafayette gave American everything it could handle the last time these teams met. In the regular season finale, the Eagles escaped with a 95-92 double-overtime victory, and the Leopards were the only road team to win in the quarterfinals. Vlad Moldoveanu isn't about to allow Lafayette to derail American's bid for a championship. The senior forward, who had 30 points against the Leopards on Feb. 26, has been on a tear lately. He is averaging 28 points and is shooting nearly 50 percent in his previous four games. Moldoveanu had Nick Hendra to thank for his 31-point showing in the Eagles' 69-53 win over Colgate in the quarterfinals, and not just because Hendra had a career-high nine assists in that game. When Moldoveanu picked up a foul guarding Yaw Gyawu 72 seconds into the game, American's coaches immediately switched defenders, moving Moldoveanu off and putting Hendra on Gyawu. Hendra, who gave up a couple inches and several pounds to Gyawu, turned in a valiant effort trying to slow him down but at a cost. Worn down by his defensive assignment, Hendra missed all six of his shot attempts. Fortunately for American, Moldoveanu more than made up for Hendra's errant shooting.

- Kathy Orton

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