Holy Cross's Greg Kinsey, right, embraces teammate Kevin Hamilton after defeating American 72-64 for the the 2003 Patriot League Basketball Men's Championship.
March 14, 2003
By HOWARD ULMAN
AP Sports Writer
WORCESTER, Mass. - Patrick Whearty converted a key three-point play during an 11-0 run that carried Holy Cross to its third straight NCAA tournament with a 72-64 victory over American in the Patriot League final Friday.
With the score tied at 51, Kevin Hamilton hit a layup, was fouled and missed the free throw. But he got the rebound and passed to Whearty, who made the layup, was fouled and made the free throw.
Whearty, the tournament MVP and league player of the year, led Holy Cross with 21 points.
After his three-point play, Hamilton and Brian Wilson hit 3-pointers for a 62-51 lead with 5:06 remaining. The Crusaders led by at least four the rest of the way.
Holy Cross (26-4, 14-1) extended its winning streak to 12 games, its longest since 1949-50. American (16-14, 9-5) is the last team to beat Holy Cross, 72-49 on Jan. 26 in Washington, D.C.
Tim Szatko added 15 points for Holy Cross, and Hamilton, a freshman, had 13. In addition to his layup and assist to Whearty, Hamilton made another big play in the final minute when he sank a free throw and got the rebound after missing the second shot. He fed Whearty, who was fouled and sank both shots for a 69-62 lead with 38 seconds to go.
Steven Miles single-handedly kept American in the rematch of last year's Patriot League championship game. He scored the Eagles' last 15 points, starting with two free throws that tied the score at 51, and ending with two more free throws that made it 69-64.
But American had to foul, and Szatko finished the scoring with three free throws.
Holy Cross is the first team in the 13-year history of the league to win three straight titles and four overall. Now the Crusaders must try to improve on their last two NCAA appearances, when they lost in the first round to Kentucky and Kansas.
Holy Cross began the game with a 12-2 lead, and American called a timeout
after 4:24. The Crusaders made it 17-7 before the Eagles went on a 12-0 run
that put them ahead 19-17 with 9:22 left in the half.
Neither team led by more than four for the rest of the half, which ended in a 33-33 tie.
Holy Cross got another quick start in the second half and led 47-36 on a three-point play by Whearty with 15:46 left.
American rallied again and tied it at 51 with 8:02 remaining on Miles' free throws, ending a 15-4 run.