PHILADELPHIA, FEB. 2 -- American University learned tonight that the difference between winning and losing often comes down to details. Like the difference between a block and a charge.

With 2:21 remaining and the Eagles tied with La Salle, 63-63, American's Daryl Holmes drove the lane and scored. Or so it seemed.

Holmes was charged with an offensive foul, and his basket was disallowed. American managed only one basket the rest of the way, falling to the Explorers, 73-65, before 1,117 at the Palestra.

"I didn't agree with the call," Coach Ed Tapscott said after his Eagles had lost their third straight to fall to 7-12. "It was a tough call at a tough time."

Early in the second half it didn't look as if there would ever be a tough time for La Salle. After Holmes (15 points) opened the period with a five-footer to pull American within one at 29-28, Lionel Simmons led La Salle (14-9) on a 14-0 run. The sophomore forward had seven points in the run, and finished with a game-high 34, including 18 of 18 from the foul line, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

But American rallied. Point guard Mike Sampson's passes inside collapsed the Explorers' zone, and his three-pointer gave the Eagles a 61-59 lead with 4:05 left. After Holmes was called for the charge, however, La Salle hit 12 of 13 free throws.

"We had our opportunities," Tapscott said. "{After the call} we were still down two. We had to put the ball in the basket, and we didn't."