There is more to American University basketball than Boo Bowers.
"Everybody is always saying that we need my scoring to win, but that's not true," Bowers said. It certainly was not last night, as the Eagles whipped West Chester State, 89-64, in an East Coast Conference game at nearly empty Fort Myer.
Bowers, the nation's seventh-leading scorer, had a comparative off night, scoring 19 points, his second-lowest total of the year and well below his 26.8 average. But four teammates, led by Bob Harvey's 17 points, finished in double figures as the Eagles improved their overall record to 11-10 and their conference mark to 4-3. The Golden Rams, whose lone victory in 10 meetings with the Eagles came in 1977, fell to 2-16 and 1-9.
"We're not that talented, and all season we've talked about having 11 guys ready to play," AU Coach Gary Williams said. "Boo has to know that the other team's top priority is stopping him, and he has to be ready for that challenge. He has had problems getting started at times, especially against weaker teams, and when he does that we have to be ready to take up the slack."
Foremost among the takers has been Harvey, a 6-foot-7 senior who missed two of the three prior games with a mild concussion. Prior to that, he was averaging slightly more than eight points per game. Since his return, he has averaged 19.
"I don't think I'm playing differently," Harvey said, "but I am looking to score more. Before, I would look to score only when the opportunity presented itself. Now if I get any opportunity to score, I'll take it. And I'm not afraid to make chances on my own. I'm becoming more of an offensive player."
He definitely was offensive to West Chester in the first half. After the Eagles' early eight-point lead had been reduced to a 28-28 tie, Harvey scored seven of his team's next nine points to key a 15-4 streak that gave AU a 43-32 halftime advantage.
"I was just looking to get something going," he said. "We'd been kind of standing around and not setting the tempo the way we should have been. I figured that if I could start something, we could get the tone for the second half."
With Dennis Ross controlling the boards and Bowers scoring on three alley-oop passes from Robin Hoey, AU moved to a 17-point lead midway in the second half. From that point, the only suspense was the width of the final margin and whether the fans could keep warm.