Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
After erasing a 17-point deficit tonight, George Washington was on the verse of upsetting Villanova. All the Wildcats had to do was show they were human by missing some late-game free shows.
But Villanova wasn't in a cooperative mood. The Wildcats made 14 straight foul shots in the final five minutes to wipe out GW's gutty comeback and win the Eastern Collegiate Basketball League tournament quarterfinal, 80-72.
For the night, Villanova failed on only two of 36 tries from the foul line, a performance that left GW wondering if the Wildcats had pulses.
"You'd think they would choke a few," said guard John Holloran. "We figure if we sent them up there enough, we would have to get a break."
The main thorn in GW's side was former Mackin star Keith Herron, who swished a 25-footer to give Villanova a never-to-be-lost 72-70 lead and then made four straight foul shots to keep GW at bay.
But GW didn't know who else to foul. Center John Oliver made 13 of 14 from the line, guard Whitey Rigby converted 11 of 12 and Larry Herron and Reggie Robinson both were perfect on two attempts.
"(Assistant coach) Tom Schneider turned to me and asked who should we foul," said GW coach Bob Tallent. "The way they were shooting, I told him, 'Don't foul any of them.'"
Villanova now plays West Virginia in one semifinal Friday night while Duquesne meets Massachusetts in the other.
West Virginia advanced by downing Pittsburgh, 66-54, behind Maurice Robinson's 26 points and Duquesne outraced Penn State, 66-55, after getting off to a 10-2 lead."
Masschusetts pulled off the shocker of the opening round by upending tournament favorite Rutgers, 78-74. Massachusetts had a 16-point halftime lead, then lost in the first five minutes after intermission before hitting pressure foul shots at the end to win.
GW was fortunate to be challenging Villanova at the end. The Colonials played horribly for the first 30 minuted and Holloran, the man they depend on for points, was unable to shake free for shots. Villanova's defense was so tenacious that Tallent finally junked his normal offense and went to an improvised formation with Holloran at point guard.
The switch was what the Colonials needed. After getting just two field goals in the first 10 minutes after intermission, they pumped in five in the next five minutes, outscoring Villanova, 16-5, to close to 64-62.
It must have been hard for the Wildcats to believe what was happening. Moments before, they were sitting on a 57-40 lead and were nonchalantly watching Keith Herron hit bull's eyes over anyone trying to guard him.
But GW reserve Mike Samson cut off Keith, who wound up with 24 points, and Villanova's offense fell apart. Holloran suddenly was getting free for shots at the other end.
He made three straight, all from 20 feet or beyond, to tie the game at 70-all with 2:39 left. But Keith Herron broke away from Samson behind a screen and popped in the 25-footer that put Villanova up for good.
GW came down after a time-out, and got the shot it wanted, a medium-range jumper from Holloran. "It was a good shot, I didn't choke on it, but it just didn't go in," said Holloran. The ball hit the side of the rim and rolled out. Keith Herron grabbed the rebound, was fouled and hit both ends of a one-on-one to put away the contest.
Holloran finished with 18 points, but took only 15 shots. His main adversary was freshman Rory Sparrow, who followed coach Rollie Massimino's order almost perfectly: keep the ball from the GW guard.