NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y., DEC. 5 -- American University raced out to a 19-point lead and held on to defeat Long Island University, 79-66, in the consolation game of the Manufacturers Hanover Classic at Iona College tonight.

AU's crisp passing, accurate shooting and some help in the middle -- all elements missing from an 89-78 first-round loss to Drexel -- enabled the Eagles to gain their first victory of the season after two losses.

Led by forward Andy Bon Salle (who had a career-high scoring night) and guard Dale Spears, who each finished with 22 points, the Eagles took a 30-11 lead. The Blackbirds (1-2) responded with 11 consecutive points, holding AU scoreless for 4 1/2 minutes.

"We're tired of being a doughnut team -- sweet on the outside and a hole in the middle," AU Coach Ed Tapscott said. "I said to the big men 'It's time. The coaches are waiting and the guards are waiting.' "

The Eagles were able to rebuild their lead to 37-24 at the half, but LIU cut the margin to 70-66 on a Timothy Pounds layup with 2:40 left.

But AU guard Mike Sampson made a crucial pair of free throws to ensure the win.LONG ISLAND Min FG FT R A PF T Burton 40 4-11 2-4 17 1 3 10 Bilall 13 1-1 0-0 1 0 0 2 Daniels 39 5-11 3-3 1 2 5

Halftime: American, 37-24

Three-point goals: Long Island 5-9 (Daniels 3-6, Livingston 0-1, Smith 2-2) American 2-6 (White 0-1, Sumner

A-1,463

Technical Fouls: Two on the LIU bench.