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American beats top-seed BU for Patriot title

AP - Sports

BOSTON (AP) -- Tony Wroblicky scored 15 points, pulled down eight rebounds and blocked two shots as American beat top-seeded Boston 55-36 Wednesday night in the Patriot League championship game, sending the Eagles to the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years.

Darius Gardner scored 18 and had four assists for American, which never trailed while claiming its first conference title since winning back-to-back Patriot League championships in 2008 and 2009. Those were also the only NCAA tournament appearances in school history.

The Eagles (20-12) closed the game on an 11-2 run, then celebrated in a team huddle before being overcome by the American fans who swarmed the players.

They had reason to celebrate.

Coming off a 10-20 season, first-year coach Mike Brennan guided the Eagles to the No. 2-seed in the conference tournament and won it with strong shooting and defense.

Maurice Watson Jr. led BU with 11 points and five rebounds. Dom Morris added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Terriers, who went 6-for-25 from the floor in the first half and never recovered.

American made 19 of 34 shots, going 56 percent from the floor, and forced the Terriers (24-10) into difficult shots all night and several long scoring droughts.

The Eagles also out-rebounded the Terriers 31-25, collecting many of them late as BU forced shots while frantically attempting to rally but never coming close.

American used an 8-0 run to pull away midway through the first half and led 24-16 at halftime. Gardner hit a 3-pointer for the Eagles with 12 seconds left after the Terriers had pulled within 21-16 on two foul shots by Dom Morris with 1:21 remaining.

Gardner scored the last eight points of the half and led the Eagles with 12 points, going 5-for-6 from the floor. The next closest American player had four. The Eagles made 10 of 18 attempts and were 4 for 6 from 3-point range.

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