In the wake of women's basketball being eliminated from the school athletic program Tuesday, William and Mary's team scored a somewhat gratifying 91-75 victory over American University at Bender Arena last night.

The game was played without incident. There had been speculation the players would make some kind of gesture to protest the decision by William and Mary Athletic Director John Randolph.

The team spent much of Tuesday night discussing strategy to try to have the decision revoked. Coach Pat Megel said a lawsuit is being considered.

The players "told the administration, 'We're going to hire a lawyer and we're going to fight you guys,' " said Megel.

The team has retained Arthur Bryant, executive director of the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, who successfully handled similar situations at Temple and Oklahoma. He will base the case on Title IX guidelines that say men and women must have equal opportunity to compete in sports.

The decision to eliminate the women's basketball program was prompted by Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's order for all state colleges to trim their budgets by more than 5 percent in the next two years. Men's wrestling and men's and women's swimming also were eliminated from the school's 25-sport athletic program. The cuts are effective at the end of the school year.

"Having this happen is like finding out your best friend is terminally ill," said Megel. "You just try to make the end as comfortable as possible."

The Tribe looked upbeat before last night's game and parlayed that into a positive effort. William and Mary forced the Eagles (7-16, 1-8 in the Colonial Athletic Association), who had just nine players uniform, into 11 turnovers en route to a 48-31 halftime lead.

William and Mary (7-14, 3-5) held the Eagles scoreless for a 6 1/2-minute stretch in the half and outscored them by 34-18 in the last 14 minutes before intermission.

Angie Evans led the Tribe with 20 points. Tiffany Stone had 20 and Marilyn Gayton added 13.

Felicia Young led American with 18 points.