Nine games were played as the NCAA tournament went through its first shakedown (page 28). For the most part form prevailed, but Miami of Ohio, whose 14-10 record is the worst of any team in the tournament, beat Notre Dame 63-60 with a tenacious defense and excellent foul shooting. Mike Wren, a 5'9" sophomore, hit on 12 of 13 foul shots for the Redskins, who missed just four of 27 attempts, while the Irish, who had to play the second half without high-scoring Austin Carr—he had reinjured his ankle—failed on 11 of 27. In the second half of that Mideast Regional, Marquette defeated. Murray State 82-62. George Thompson, a speech major at Marquette, had plenty to talk about after putting in 23 points, 14 of them in the second half and eight of those in a quick burst after Murray had narrowed its deficit to 53-50.
Mike Maloy of Davidson was the top scorer during the first-round games. He had 31 points as the Wildcats came from nine points behind and wore down Villanova 75-61. The most spectacular single shot was a 79-footer by Bill Zopf of Duquesne, which helped beat St. Joseph's 74-52. Zopf banked in his tape-measure shot as the first-half buzzer sounded. A third winner in the East Regional was St. John's, which blew an early nine-point lead and then closed with a flourish to eliminate Princeton 72-63.
DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE AGGIE WHO THOUGHT HE COULD BEAT TRINITY? HEE, HEE, HA, HA, HO. This was the optimistic banner displayed at the Midwest Regional contest between Trinity of Texas and Texas A&M. Once again, though, it was the Aggies who had the last laugh as they won 81-66. "Neither team had any offensive efficiency," was the way Dayton's Don Donoher understated his 52-50 loss to Colorado State. Offensive efficiency reached its nadir during the final 2:27, during which State made only three of six foul shots, Dayton just one of three. Worse yet, the Rams lost the ball with 19 seconds to go on a careless pass but got it back when Dayton was unable to get the ball safely inbounds and then botched the resultant jump ball.
March 17, 1969
To remind Seattle that it would have to face Willie Sojourner of Weber State, the marquee at the Mission Inn in Las Cruces, N. Mex. was altered. Instead of billing the Sojourners, a musical group that was at the motel, the last "s" was dropped to make the marquee read: THE FABULOUS SOJOURNER TONIGHT. As Seattle Coach Morris Buck-waiter checked into the motel he quipped, "You really know how to hurt a guy." Sojourner hurt Buckwalter even more, putting in 17 of his 22 points in the second half as Weber State won 75-73. In the second game of that Far West doubleheader, New Mexico State stopped Brigham Young 74-62.
Colorado (20-6), Kentucky (22-4) and North Carolina (25-3) also qualified for the NCAA tournament by winning conference titles. The last remaining berth goes to the winner of the Missouri Valley playoff between Drake (22-4) and Louisville (20-4). The loser will go to the NIT, which completed its lineup with Army (16-8), Florida (18-8), Fordham (17-8), Kansas (20-6), Ohio University (16-8), South Carolina (20-6), St. Peter's (20-6), Tennessee (18-6), Tulsa (19-7) and Wyoming (19-8). Previously selected were Boston College, Rutgers, Southern Illinois, Temple and West Texas State.
1. UCLA (25-1)
2. SANTA CLARA (26-1)
3. WEBER STATE (25-2)
With 19 seconds to go, it was USC 44, UCLA 44, when Trojan Ernie Powell passed the ball inbounds. With 15 seconds remaining, Powell and teammate Don Crenshaw maneuvered for position on the right side of the key. Five seconds later Powell took a pass, worked behind Crenshaw's screen and prepared for one last shot. With six seconds left his 20-foot jumper went up and then down through the net. UCLA, in a desperate race against the clock, got the ball to Sidney Wicks after two long passes. He arched a shot for the basket just as the buzzer sounded, but the ball caromed off the rim, and so ended the Bruins' 41-game winning streak. UCLA had barely survived the night before, beating the Trojans 61-55 in double overtime, and it would have lost that game had Lynn Shackelford not put in a 25-foot shot just as the first overtime buzzer went off. After the big upset, USC Coach Bob Boyd credited the ball control of Powell, Crenshaw (who had 20 points in the second game), Mack Calvin and Steve Jennings. The four also hounded the Bruins on defense, so much so that Coach John Wooden finally had the 6'9" Wicks bring the ball upcourt. In another Pacific Eight double overtime affair Stanford surprised California 83-79 after coming from 10 points behind in the last three minutes of regulation play.
Santa Clara beat Pacific 81-69, and then stopped St. Mary's 72-56.
Brigham Young abandoned its usual zone defense in favor of a man-to-man for its playoff against Wyoming to determine which Western AC team would go to the NCAA tournament. Wyoming led 44-37 at the intermission, but in the second half the BYU muscle paid off and the Cougars won going away, 95-82.
1. LA SALLE (23-1)
2. ST. JOHN'S (23-4)
3. BOSTON COLLEGE (21-3)
It was Coach Bob Cousy's last game at Boston College, and the sentiment and ceremonies blew so thick you could hardly see the game for the tears. Before play started, Cousy was given a gold clock by his players and then—after a five-minute standing ovation—a plaque making him an honorary alumnus. After the game the crowd chanted, "Cousy, Cousy," for 10 minutes before he returned from the dressing room to acknowledge the tribute. But there was more to come: confetti and streamers, a multi-tiered cake and handshakes with hundreds of friends. Incidental to all that was the small matter of the contest with ninth-ranked Duquesne. BC won it 93-72 as Terry Driscoll had 28 points and 17 rebounds. The victory was the 16th in a row for the Eagles.
Rutgers beat Gettysburg 92-77 and NYU 77-74 to tie BC for the longest winning streak in the country, now that UCLA has lost. NYU took a 71-70 lead with slightly less than three minutes left, but Rutgers pulled ahead on a three-point play by Bob Greacen and four clutch foul shots by Jack Penhall.
Fairfield stopped Canisius 90-78 despite 23 points by Tony Masiello. Against Niagara, Masiello scored 35 points as he brought the Griffins back from an early 14-point deficit and won the game 83-79 by sinking four foul shots in the final 15 seconds. Calvin Murphy of Niagara had 25 points, giving him a two-year total of 1,694.
1. DAVIDSON (26-2)
2. NORTH CAROLINA (25-3)
3. KENTUCKY (22-4)
Charlie Scott, saving his best for the last, led North Carolina to victory in the Atlantic Coast championship tournament. He scored 28 of his 40 points in the second half of the title game as the Tar Heels, who trailed Duke by 11 with 17:45 remaining, came back to win 85-74. Earlier, the Tar Heels had beaten Clemson 94-70 and Wake Forest 80-72. Duke made it to the finals by taking care of Virginia 99-86 and upsetting South Carolina 68-59.
Pete Maravich of LSU needed 104 points in his last two games to break his own single-season NCAA record for average points per game (43.8). He started off fast, getting 55 in a 99-89 win over Mississippi State, but against Georgia he had just 16 at half-time. Then he went to work and poured in 42 points in the second half and overtime periods. The Tigers won 90-80, and Maravich ended the season with 1,148 points, 44.2 a game.
It was Kentucky, however, that won the Southeastern Conference title—its 24th under Adolph Rupp. Dan Issel had 34 points as the Wildcats stopped Auburn 90-86 and 23 more in an 84-69 win over Tennessee. That was the biggest score against the Volunteers in six years, but they clinched second place by holding Vanderbilt scoreless for 7:31 during one stretch in the second half and coming off with a 70-60 triumph.
1. PURDUE (20-4)
2. DRAKE (22-4)
3. MARQUETTE (23-4)
The key to the congested Big Eight race—which looked as if it might end in a five-way tie—was the one that let Kansas State out of the film room, where it had been locked in accidentally while looking at movies of Kansas, the team it was about to play. When they came out, the Wildcats got 26 points from Jerry Venable and came away with a 64-57 win. That could have thrown the race into a three-way deadlock, but opportunistic Colorado routed Missouri 92-73 to finish alone at the top. Missouri's strategy was to hold down Colorado's Cliff Meely. It backfired when Gordon Tope hit from long range for 29 points. When the Tigers turned on Tope, Mike Coleman hit on six of seven shots. And Meely got 18 points and 21 rebounds, anyway.
Purdue's Rick Mount, the nation's No. 2 scorer, finished the regular season with a 33.8 average, and the Boilermakers with the highest team average (99.6). Mount had 45 points in a 116-87 win over Michigan, 40 in a 120-76 victory over Indiana. He set a Big Ten scoring record with 493 points, 19 more than Gary Bradds of Ohio State had five years ago. The newest Buckeye scoring threat—sophomore Jim Cleamons—had 37 points as Ohio State beat Indiana 108-86 and 35 in downing Michigan 95-86.
Drake and Louisville warmed up for their Missouri Valley showdown with easy wins. Willie Wise had 33 points as Drake beat St. Louis 93-78. Jerry King of Louisville had 30 points in an 82-78 win over Bradley, and Mike Grosso had 24 points and 21 rebounds as the Cardinals downed Bellarmine 93-80.
Murray State, picked by Ohio Valley coaches to finish in sixth place, won a playoff against Morehead State for a spot in the NCAA tournament, 94-76. Claude Virden had 27 points for the Thoroughbreds, who sank 50% of their shots.
Notre Dame lost its final regular-season game 79-74 to Creighton, which then closed with a 74-72 loss to St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies won their game when Bill Kalbaugh got the ball and scored in the waning seconds.