The spotlight does not find its way to Mike McNally often. It did yesterday and the 5-foot-9 Catholic University guard hammed it up, scoring eight of his team's final 10 points and with time-consuming dribbing in the last three minutes as CU beat visiting Boston University, 71-68.
There were other heroes, as the scrappy Cardinals won their third game over a Division 1 opponent in their first recent year in major college competition.
Glenn Kolonics played as dismal an opening 17 minutes as any player could fear, but reversed his role and finished with "the best all-around half of basketball he has played for me in two years," said to coach Jack Kvancz.
Junior college transfers, Pete Gruzinskas and Stan Cooper, rugged 6-5 forwards, showed why Kvancz says, "At least I can try some things. They can run a little, rebound a little, even dunk a little. It's nice."
And finally, CU's noble center, 6-6 Kevin Dziwulski, whose name is often mispronounced and whose head is even more often battered by taller opponents, kept the Terriers from claiming every offensive rebound in the Brookland gym.
"I've lost three close ones and we have some rugged games coming up. This win is like a transfusion," said Kvancz.
McNally called time out with 3:11 left, CU ahead, 61-59, and two Terriers yapping at him as they trapped him in a corner near the BU basket.
During that time out Kvancz called the play that may have turned the game for CU. BU had been clawing back from what had been a 49-40 deficit with a full-court press that had CU in a tizzy.
So CU gambled and went for the home run. McNally pretended to raise up for a short in-bound pass, then reversed and sprinted for the other end of the gym. Cooper received the pass and fired it over his shoulder to the streaking McNally.
The little junior from Gonzaga High made a right-handed scoop shot from the left side, using his body to shield off a 6-6 defender for a 63-59 lead.
A minute later McNally fed Gruzinskas in the lane for a 10-foot tall away jumper and a 65-69 margin. BU continued to romp on the offensive board but missed missing five straight lay-ups.
With 1:50 left McNally started nailing down Boston with free throws. Three times he converted both ends of a one and one - with 75, 24 and 9 seconds remaining.
"We have free throw shooting drills every day," laughed the slender, shagg-haired McNally. "I kept thinking I'd have to run 19 laps around the gym if I missed.
If McNally's free throws were the clincher, Kolonics' play had set the stage. In the first half he was awful, missing six of his first eight shots, traveling, throwing away passes, charging and generally looking so perplexed and furious at himself that he started silently, cursing himself after each mistake.
It was merely a continuation of Kolonic's disappointing offensive play all season. "I've been getting down on myself," admitted Kolonics. "If Glenn were playing like he did last year (average 27.7 points a game)," said McNally, "we could probably beat almost anybody we play."
With three minutes left in the first half that familiar Kolonics of yester-years began to return. He hit three straight jumpers before the half and made five remarkable assists in a five-minute sapn early in the second half for a 47-38.
When BU started its comeback push, Kolonics, who finished 10-for-23 for 22 points, made two short jumpers off fast breaks. Kolonics ended his all-court show, including several strong defensive rebounds, with a left-to-right, fall-away, fall-down, in-your-face, 16-footer that made it 61-56.
Then McNally took over.