For many of the nation's finest teams it was an anxious week, one of playoffs and tournaments and sweating it out as they sought berths in the NCAA tournament. One exuberant winner was Iona Coach Jim Valvano. After his team stopped St. John's 63-57 for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Metropolitan championship, Valvano said, "We own the Big Apple." To get to the finals, the Gaels had to overcome Seton Hall in the first round, battling back from four points down at halftime to win 80-73. Iona then blew most of its 18-point lead against St. John's but hung on with the help of Jeff Ruland's 24 points.
In a matchup labeled the EC AC Upstate New York Southern championship, Georgetown, which is in Washington, D.C., rallied for a 66-58 victory over Syracuse. The Hoy-as, who trailed 30-28 at halftime, prevailed when John Duren flicked in 11 points in the second half. The Orangemen scored only five points in the first 9½ minutes after intermission. To qualify for the matchup, Georgetown beat Old Dominion 73-52 and Syracuse ran its winning streak to 19 games by clipping St. Bonaventure 83-71. Despite losing, St. John's and Syracuse got NCAA bids.
Bruce Harrold, a 57% foul shooter during the regular season, twice came through in the clutch as Temple took the East Coast Conference tournament. Harrold made four free, throws in the last 1:19 to knock off Lafayette 53-50 and he sank two foul shots with 23 seconds left as the Owls edged St. Joseph's 61-60 in the title game. The Hawks led 28-19 before having their four-corner offense shredded by Temple's 2-1-2 defense. Explained Owl Coach Don Casey, "I got the 2-1-2 from Coach John Chaney of Cheyney State. The guy in the middle plays zone, the others keep switching."
March 12, 1979
Another poor foul shooter suddenly found the range as Rutgers built its record to 21-8 by taking the Eastern Eight tournament. Kelvin Troy, who was 58% from the line during the season, sank 21 of 3-1 free throws as the Scarlet Knights downed Penn State 67-57, West Virginia 55-52 and Pitt 61-57. To come out on top, Rutgers also needed a flurry of points from James Bailey, who tossed in 55 in the three victories.
Connecticut won the ECAC New England title by beating Boston College 91-74 and knocking off Rhode Island 58-50. In the wrap-up game, freshman Corny Thompson's three-point play broke a 41-41 tie and put the Huskies ahead for keeps.
By beating Western Carolina 65-43 and Furman 86-83, Appalachian State won the Southern Conference tournament and ran its record to 23-5. Darryl Robinson ensured the Mountaineers' first-ever trip to the NCAAs with 26 points against Furman.
Penn put the finishing touches on its eighth 20-win season in 10 years. With Tony Price picking up 35 points and picking off 15 rebounds, Penn beat Yale 94-81 and Brown 83-75.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (23-5)
2. GEORGETOWN (24-4)
3. SYRACUSE (25-3)
A few scoring streaks, a pressing defense, plus fine performances by Brad Holland and David Greenwood enabled UCLA to drub California 79-68 and Stanford 99-71 en route to its 13th straight conference title in what is now known as the Pac-10. Holland had 25 points and Greenwood 22 in the victory over the Bears, UCLA's 1,000th win. As for the Cardinals, any upset hopes they had were wiped out when the Bruins outscored them 25-4 during one streak. Holland and Kiki Vandeweghe each had 22 points in that game, while Greenwood added 28 and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Even though ace Center Cliff Robinson was still out with a sprained right foot, Southern Cal continued to win with surprising ease and nailed down an NCAA bid. Serving as the catalyst for the Trojans was 6'7" Purvis Miller, who had 20 and 22 points respectively to help dispose of Stanford 79-68 and Cal 86-64.
Unlike Robinson, Danny Ainge of Brig-ham Young was back in the lineup. Ainge, who suffered partially torn knee ligaments the week before, helped the Cougars squeak out a 96-95 decision at San Diego State that clinched their first Western AC championship since 1972. Fred Roberts had 23 points for BYU, but Ainge was the key figure with 24 points, including two free throws in the last seven seconds, and nine rebounds. The Aztecs got 38 points from Kim (The Long Ranger) Goetz, who hit on 17 of 21 field-goal tries. Against WAC runner-up Utah, the 6'7" Goetz had another big game, sinking 18 of 31 shots from the floor and scoring a team-record 44 points. The Utes, though, got 30 points from Greg Deane and 26 from Tom Chambers, won 100-87 and got an NCAA bid.
Weber State beat Montana 98-71 and Northern Arizona 92-70 to take the Big Sky tournament. During those games the Wildcats shot 59.6% from the floor, had a 95-64 rebounding edge and got 44 points from Rich Smith. Further support came from Guard Bruce Collins, who scored 43 points, grabbed 24 rebounds and blocked five shots.
The West's top gunner, however, was Denver's Matt Teahan, who made 27 of 47 field-goal attempts and had a school-record 61 points, as the Pioneers beat Nebraska Wesleyan 113-96.
Pacific won the Pacific Coast AA tournament by trimming UC-Irvine 57-52, Long Beach State 74-69 and Utah State 82-73. Utah State was given an NCAA berth, as were West Coast AC titlist San Francisco and Pepperdine.
1. UCLA (23-4)
2. USC (19-8)
3. SAN FRANCISCO (21-6)
Larry Bird Boulevard is the new name for the street that runs past the high school the Indiana State star attended. And last week Bird paved the Sycamores' road to the NCAAs with 74 points as they took the Missouri Valley tournament by beating West Texas State 94-84, Southern Illinois 79-72 and New Mexico State 69-59. That made Indiana State the 16th team to reach the NCAAs with a perfect record. The Sycamores had a scare, though, when Bird was injured in the MVC finale, but he is not expected to be hampered much by a slightly cracked thumb.
Before the Arkansas-Texas clash in the Southwest Conference windup, it was announced that there was a car from Arkansas in the parking lot with its lights on. That brought raucous cheers from the Longhorn fans in Houston's Summit. But when the game was over, it was the Razorback rooters who were all lit up and shouting, Arkansas having prevailed 39-38 by virtue of slowdown tactics and Sidney Moncrief's twisting layup 16 seconds from the end. Texas had advanced to the finals by eliminating Houston 70-65, Arkansas by downing Texas Tech 93-77 behind U.S. Reed's 22 points and Moncrief's 21 points and 13 rebounds. Texas then joined Arkansas in the NCAAs by getting an at-large bid.
Freshman Center Dale Solomon, Virginia Tech's top scorer, was in New Jersey for his grandmother's funeral, so Forward Wayne Robinson took up the slack when the Gobblers met Cincinnati in the first round of the Metro 7 tournament. Robinson came through with 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots as Tech won 80-74. When Tech faced top-seeded Louisville, Solomon was on hand to toss in 28 points in a 72-68 upset. That put the Gobblers in the title game against Florida State. Despite 30 points by State's Murray Brown, who scored a tournament-record 70 points, Tech won 68-60 as Solomon chipped in with 21 points.
Southland Conference champion Lamar concluded its regular season by beating Arkansas State 90-87.
1. INDIANA STATE (29-0)
2. ARKANSAS (23-4)
3. TEXAS (21-7)
"When it left my hands, it really looked good," said Wisconsin's sophomore guard, Wesley Matthews, of his hard-to-believe 55-foot basket in the last second against Michigan State. Matthews' shot bounced off the backboard and through the net for an 83-81 Badger triumph that left three teams tied for the Big Ten title. There were three seconds to go in the game when Earvin Johnson of the Spartans concluded his 13-rebound, eight-assist day by scoring the last of his 26 points on two foul shots. That knotted the score at 81. Then Matthews took an inbounds pass and unloosed his improbable shot. That was the second shocker of the week pulled off by Wisconsin, which had toppled Ohio State from a first-place deadlock with a 76-73 decision.
Sharing first were Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue. The Spartans earned their slice of the title by beating Minnesota 76-63 as Gregory Kelser pumped in 25 points. Jay Vincent 23 and Johnson 21. Iowa started off with a 61-53 loss to Michigan, which got 21 points from Mike McGee, and 16 points and 15 rebounds from Phil Hubbard. The Hawkeyes then bounced back for a 95-64 win at Northwestern. Purdue defeated Indiana 55-48 and Ohio State 74-66, Joe Barry Carroll leading the way with 50 points and 26 rebounds. NCAA selectors gave tournament spots to Michigan State and Iowa.
SEC coaches picked Tennessee to end up seventh in the conference, but first-year Coach Don DeVoe brought the Vols home second. And last week the Vols wrapped up their string of surprises by winning the first SEC tournament in 27 years. Tennessee made it to the finals by defeating Auburn 75-64. Another upstart, Kentucky, had to win three times to make it to the final round. The Wildcats got 32 points from Kyle Macy as they beat Mississippi 82-77. Kentucky next jarred Alabama 101-100 as Truman Claytor hit nine field goals without a miss in the second half and Dwight Anderson sank a free throw with eight seconds left. Although Anderson broke his left wrist in the first 30 seconds against Louisiana State, the Wildcats then shocked the regular-season champions 80-67 as Macy and Claytor teamed up for 49 points. Claytor had 27 points in the showdown with Tennessee, which was tied 55-55 at the end of regulation play. A three-point play by Reggie Johnson early in overtime helped the Vols win 75-69. Gary Carter's 22 points and nine rebounds were instrumental for Tennessee. LSU joined the Vols in the NCAA. Kentucky went to the NIT.
DePaul, which has virtually no bench strength, built a 34-23 halftime lead over visiting Notre Dame and then hung on. The Blue Demons lost two starters on fouls, kept plugging away and jolted the Irish for the second year in a row, 76-72, as both teams tuned up for the NCAAs. Notre Dame was then stunned 62-59 on Sunday at Michigan.
Western Kentucky left the floor with what it felt was a 77-76 victory over Eastern Kentucky in the finals of the Ohio Valley tournament. But the Hilltoppers had to come back when it was ruled that Eastern's Dave Tierney had been fouled just before the buzzer. After much confusion, Tierney went to the foul line, where he sank two shots to make the Colonels 78-77 victors.
Toledo and Central Michigan will have a playoff this week to settle the Mid-American race. The Rockets' 79-43 drubbing of Eastern Michigan earned them a tie for first with Central, which lost to Kent State 79-68.
An 83-64 verdict over South Carolina made NCAA-bound Marquette a 20-game winner for the 13th season in a row. Sam Worthen's nine assists gave him a Warrior single-season mark of 192. Also headed for the NCAAs were the Sun Belt's regular-season Champion, South Alabama, the conference's tournament winner, Jacksonville, and independent Detroit.
1. MICHIGAN STATE (21-6)
2. NOTRE DAME (22-5)
3. DePAUL (22-4)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CLAUDE GREGORY: The 6'8" Wisconsin sophomore forward scored 48 points and grabbed 26 rebounds as the Badgers pulled off two upsets in the Big Ten, a 76-73 win over Ohio State and an 83-81 defeat of Michigan.