Scoring the game's first 17 points, American University's veteran basketball team gave first-year Coach Ed Tapscott his first victory last night, beating St. Mary's College, 105-52, in a season-opening effort at Fort Myer.

Tapscott, who has replaced Gary Williams, now at Boston College after leading AU to two straight NIT seasons, was especially impressed by his freshman as AU won by the largest margin (53 points) in school history.

"It's always special to win that first one," said Tapscott, a former AU assistant who played his high school ball in the District at Sidwell Friends before attending Tufts.

"But more importantly, a game like this shows me what I can expect from some of the younger players. You find out who's has disciplined himself to run the offense, who shows the right instincts, the aggressiveness to play."

One player who impressed Tapscott was 6-foot-7 freshman Rod Brown, only 17 and a summer recruit from Atlanta. Brown, one of three freshman, made four of five field goal attempts and finished with a team-high eight rebounds in just 13 minutes of playing time.

"The way he played he was saying 'look at me coach, I'm trying to impress.' "

Tapscott also was happy with the play of first-year guard Darnell Swinton, from Mackin, who scored 10 points and had five assists, and 6-7 freshman Phil Williams, from St. Anthony's, who scored six points and had seven rebounds.

"I think we played well together," said Brown. "It will help develop our confidence for better teams".

AU's starting five had plenty of confidence. With point guard Gordon Austin forcing three of five early St. Mary's turnovers, the Eagles quickly built a 13-0 lead in 4:33. By the time Tapscott had his first reserve in the game, the Eagles led, 25-2. At half, using all 14 men, AU led, 47-24.

The veterans started the second half and stayed around only long enough to build a 60-24 margin and assure Ed Sloane and Mark Nickens of double-digit performances.

Sloane finished with a team-high 20 points, making all 10 shots he took from the floor on an assortment of driving layups and rebound-layups. Nickens finished with 15.