Rutgers brought down the roof—and part of the ceiling—when it overhauled St. Bonaventure 85-80. Playing at home while paint flaked off the ceiling and onto the court, the Scarlet Knights had their backers roaring as they climaxed their first unbeaten regular season (26-0). Then it was on to the ECAC Metropolitan tournament, where they hurried past LIU 104-76. Next came the wrap-up contest against St. John's, with the winner to face Princeton in the first round of the NCAAs, the loser to take on Indiana. The Knights trailed by nine early on, spurted and won 70-67 as Hollis Copeland hit 11 of 14 shots and Phil Sellers drove in for three late baskets to also finish with 22 points.
Three other ECAC tournaments settled NCAA berths. A local columnist promised Massachusetts fans, who had complained about lack of press coverage in the Boston area, that if their team won at the New England regional, "the story won't be wedged in between the girdle ads and the overseas flight arrivals." But Connecticut jolted the Minutemen 73-69 and, with Joe Whelton and Al Weston teaming up for 44 points, upset Providence 87-73. Syracuse took the Upstate New York regional by trouncing Manhattan 83-57 and Niagara 77-68. Georgetown won the Southern regional, stopping Villanova 72-59 and George Washington 68-63.
"We wanted to give the people a show, do some dealin'," said VMI's Ron Carter but a Richmond stall held down the score, VMI winning 41-33 to take the Southern Conference tournament. Carter, though, had something to show people: his MVP trophy.
March 15, 1976
Rich Laurel's 53 points carried Hofstra to the East Coast Conference title as it beat Bucknell, Lafayette and Temple.
By stopping Cornell 73-58 and Columbia 46-44, Princeton concluded its Ivy League schedule with a 14-0 record.
1. RUTGERS (28-0)
2. N. CAROLINA (25-3)
The best bet in Las Vegas—UNLV to win—came through twice. The Rebels chopped down St. Mary's 124-86, Eddie Owens flicking in 33 points and Glen Gondrezick adding 22 more and grabbing 15 rebounds. Then, despite Marymount's slowdown, UNLV won 90-69, Owens finding the range for 29 points.
Trailing USC 62-58 with 8:07 to go, UCLA got six quick points from Richard Washington and pulled away to win 87-73. The Bruins had been guaranteed their 10th-straight league crown when Oregon settled the Pacific Eight race by nipping Oregon State 57-56. Ron Lee of the Ducks scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half, sinking the winning basket with 14 seconds remaining and then intercepting State's desperation court-length pass.
Arizona's Bob Elliott had 21 points and 11 rebounds in a 77-72 triumph over Arizona State to give the Wildcats their first Western AC title in 25 years.
The son shone for Boise State. Steve Connor, a guard on his father Bus' team, crammed in six points in the second overtime and 20 in all as the Broncos clipped Weber State 77-70. The win gave Boise its first Big Sky championship.
In another overtime title-deciding contest, Pepperdine outlasted San Francisco 85-84 in the West Coast AC. Center Marcos Leite's 28 points and 15 rebounds enabled the Waves to hand the Dons their first home-court setback this season.
San Diego State bumped off Pacific 76-64 to win the Pacific Coast AA tournament and an NCAA berth.
1. UCLA (23-4)
2. UNLV (28-1)
Alabama locked up at least a tie for the Southeastern Conference title when it made 16 free throws in a row and got three steals and 10 points from Anthony Murray—all in the last 5:58—to overcome Georgia 87-76. For the Tide, which had been behind 72-65 before that surge, it was the 12th time it had rallied to win in the last 10 minutes. Bama also came back against Kentucky, but not far enough back, slicing deeply into a 13-point deficit with 4:19 left before succumbing 90-85. The Wildcats, perhaps inspired by having Adolph Rupp join their pregame huddle, played stick-out ball. Two sophomores led Kentucky, James Lee getting 21 points and 11 rebounds, Mike Phillips netting 25 points. Bernard King topped off a 33-point effort with a game-winning jumper in the last three seconds to give Tennessee a 78-76 win over Mississippi State. The Vols also beat Georgia 86-70, but did so without King, who suffered a compound dislocation of his left thumb. Outfitted with a splint, King is expected to be in the lineup in the NCAA playoffs. Ernie Grunfeld made up for King's absence with a 37-point performance.
Scott May and Kent Benson twice combined for 42 points, leading Indiana past Northwestern 76-63 and Ohio State 96-67 for its second straight undefeated regular season. Big Ten runner-up Michigan was upset 81-79 by Minnesota, which got 32 points from Mike Thompson.
Bill Paterno scored eight points in overtime and Adrian Dantley had 33 overall as Notre Dame held off Western Michigan 95-88. Returning to Mid-American combat, Western zoned out Miami of Ohio 73-58 as Tom Cutter had a dozen rebounds and 23 points, then clinched its first league title in 25 years by defeating Bowling Green 71-58.
Western Kentucky defeated Morehead State 65-60 in the final of the Ohio Valley tournament. The Hilltoppers' opponent in this week's NCAA Mideast Regional will be Marquette, which tuned up by outscoring Xavier 20-1 in the final seven minutes of a 74-49 victory.
1. INDIANA (27-0)
2. MARQUETTE (25-1)
Now for the latest installment of the Big Eight soap opera, Jack Hartman, Jack Hart-man. Playing at home, the Kansas State coach had cause for optimism, for beating Missouri would give the Wildcats the conference's NCAA berth. But as Jack Hartman was about to cross to center stage he was met by Misfortune, played by Willie Smith, a Missouri guard. Putting on a performance worthy of an Emmy, Smith scored a career-high 38 points, two of them after throwing an inbounds pass off a Wildcat's back, fielding the carom and laying it in. Missouri won 81-72, then got 23 more points from Smith as it walloped Colorado 95-60 to seal its first outright title since 1930.
Cincinnati won the Metro VI tournament, downing Georgia Tech 71-60 and Memphis State 103-95. State's Dexter Reed, who had 30 points against the Bearcats, tossed in 25 in an 87-76 upset of Louisville that helped earn the Tigers an NCAA berth.
Although double-and triple-teamed at times, Texas Tech's Rick Bullock scored 100 points in a three-game sweep to the Southwest Conference tournament title. But it was Mike Russell's 17-foot shot with two seconds left in the championship game that brought a 74-72 victory over Texas A&M.
A tie for first in the Missouri Valley was unscrambled, Wichita State stopping Drake 75-69 while Southern Illinois was overtimed by New Mexico State 103-92.
Oral Roberts' 11-game winning streak ended 87-78 when Tulsa's Bobby Okrzesik got hot. Okrzesik, a .390 non-marksman in his 106-game career, scored 24 points, sinking his first 12 attempts.
1. CINCINNATI (24-5)
2. MISSOURI (24-4)