Mark Nickens' 18-foot jump shot with 28 seconds to play lifted American University to a 73-72 East Coast Conference victory over Hofstra tonight.

Gary Cheslock had a final chance to give the Flying Dutchment victory, but his 10-foot jumper with six seconds remaining bounced off the rim and was grabbed by AU center Juan Jones.

The victory improved the Eagles' division-leading record to 7-0 and overall record to 15-3. Hofstra is 3-5 in the league and 8-11 overall.

American, which trailed, 38-36, at halftime, rallied to lead by as many as 11 points midway through the second period before Cheslock a 6-foot-8 center, began hitting inside shots against the smaller Eagles. The Hofstra center scored six straight points to put the Dutchmen ahead, 70-69, with 2:14 to play.

The Eagles had built their second-half lead on the play of forward Dennis Ross, who equaled his career high of 22 points. Ross had 13 points in the second half, two on free throws with 1:14 to play that put AU back on top, 71-70.

Hofstra again fed the ball inside to Cheslock, whose final basket gave the Dutchmen a 72-71 lead with a minute to play.

In addition to Ross' 22 points, AU received 17 points from Nickens and 12 from Robin Hoey as the Eagles continued to perform well without star Boo Bowers, who is recovering from a knee injury. Hofstra got 16 points from Cheslock and 17 from Dan Rumph.