It was projected weeks ago that the American University Eagles could be 12-2 when they play Georgetown on Wednesday.They will be. But it wasn't easy.

With Robin Hoey scoring 18 of his 22 points in the second half, the Eagles won their 12th straight, beating West Chester, 63-55, tonight before 950 at Hollinger Field House.

The game was preliminary to a women's contest between West Chester and Immaculata. It was a poor opening act; as the main event, it never would have made it. There were 44 turnovers -- 31 by the Golden Rams (3-9), who managed to lose while shooting 72.5 percent from the field.

The Eagles admittedly didn't play up to par, even without the presence of top scorer Boo Bowers. Failing repeatedly to break the game open, AU led by just two, 45-43, with 8:50 to play and didn't clinch the game until it went ahead by 10, 57-47, with three minutes to go.

AU Coach Gary Williams was glad to escape with a victory which made this the first AU team to start the season with a 12-2 record.

"It was a great win," he said. Williams was asked if he were kidding. "I'm being very serious," he said. "When I was an assistant at Lafayette, we'd come down here and they'd be tough on us. You look at their size. There were some trains out there."

One need look no further than the Ram locomotive, 6-foot-9, 255-pound Randy Alter. He scored 20 points and had eight rebounds to keep the Rams close. He also kept the Rams at a distance, having a hand in 10 turnovers.

The Rams' play in the early going was basic: don't shoot and give the ball up whenever possible. In its first 12 possessions, West Chester committed 10 turnovers. It managed just 11 shots in the half, making nine, for an 81.8 percentage from the field. But AU, which hit 12 of 28 from the field, led by only six, 26-20, at intermission.

Williams said he didn't expect a slowdown. "What are we, the Yankees?" he said in semiamazement. "They've got pretty good players. I was surprised they held the ball."

Hoey had a horrible half, shooting two for nine. But the second half was another matter for the 6-2 senior. He made eight of nine shots, most of them jumpers and almost all when it seemed as if West Chester was about to close in.

"Robin won the game for us in the second half," Williams said.

Williams said that without Bowers, who was averaging 25.5 points per game when he injured his knee Jan. 17, he is looking for Hoey to help pick up the offensive slack.

But Hoey credited his teammates for setting him up with nice passes. He said he doesn't consciously seek to replace Bowers as the Eagles' top gunner.