Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
American University wasted a magnificent second-half rally against La Salle last night.
Down 14 points with less than nine minutes to play, the Eagles tied the East Coast Conference game, threw away a pass playing for the final shot and lost on Kurt Kanaskie's 25-footer at the buzzer, 64-62, in The Palestra.
The victory gave La Salle a final 5-0 record in the ECC's East Division and dropped AU to 1-2 in ECC play and struggling for the other first-round bye in the league's 12-team qualifying tournament for an automatic NCAA bertn.
And the Eagles have only themselves to blame. Unlike the case in their last game, a 74-88 blowout by St. Joseph's at home, AU kept La Salle playing at the deliberate tempo the Eagles wanted, until they fell 14 points behind.
Then AU, by necessity, began playing at a faster pace. And La Salle, which pressed the entire game in an attempt to increase the tempo to its run-and-shoot game, reacted wildly.
Usually, when the Explorers don't score, it's because Kanaskie or another of La Salle's sharp outside shooters fail to connect. In the 14 possessions it tool AU to outscore the Explorers 19-4 for a 61-60 advantage, La Salle committed seven turnovers, mostly because of bad passes.
Meanwhile, Donald Kelly, Mark Garlitos, Howie Lassoff, Boo Bowers and Leon Kearney brought AU back with near uncanny accuracy. Kelly's flip-in off a drive to the basket gave AU its first lead of the night, 61-60.
La Salle's scorer, 6-foot-8 center Mike Brooks, missed at the other end and AU went to the four-corners delay game. Kearney, who was fouled, missed the second half of a bonus situation and AU led, 62-60.
When Darryl Gladden missed a 20-footer, Bowers grabbed the rebound and AU had possession with 1:32 to play. Gladden almost immediately fouled Kelly, sending AU's best free-throw shooter (82 per cent) to the line for a one-and-one with 1:28 to play.
"I wasn't even looking when he missed it," said AU coach Jim Lynam. "I thought they were as good as gold. I turned around to tell somebody to get back to guard Kanaskie."
AU's tightly packed 2-3 zone defense had thwarted Brooks, a 25-point-per-game man, all night. But he sank a little turnaround jumper and tied the game at 62 with 1:07 to play. AU then came down to play for the final shot, with Garlitos and Kelly controlling the ball in the four-corners that Lynan calls (our tease game."
Garlitos had the ball with about 13 seconds left and started to drive toward the basket. With Kanaskie guarding him, he pulled up, bypassed the same shot that had beaten Catholic U. earlier this season and attempted to pass off to Bowers, on his right side.
At the timeout, Lynam instructed his players to play a tightly packed 2-3.
Jim Wolkiewicz, La Salle's best defensive player, stole the ball and called time with seven seconds to play zone. "Make them be jump-shooters," Lynam told his players.
Opposing Coach Paul Westhead told his players to run their favorite offense: a fast-break pattern that he says takes 3 1/2 seconds to execute.
Gladden passed the ball to Kanaskie, who was 8 for 31 in the previous two games.
"I looke inside at Brooks low, and he was double-teamed," Kanaskie said. "I looked at the clock. There were three seconds left. Then I let it go."