Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
In one of the most drastic turnarounds of any college basketball game. Virginia Commonwealth came from 18 points down at halftime and blew away George Washington, 74-64, Friday night in the Virginia Tipoff Tournament.*TVCU committed 18 first half turnovers and started the second half the same way. But G.W. which played terrific defense , Friday night in the Virginia Tipoff Tournament.
VCU committed 18 first half turnovers and started the second half the same way. But G.W. which played terrific defense and out rebounded its taller foe in the first half, couldn't put away its Richmond opponent.
"They came out. They were dead." said GW Coach Bob Tallent. "They didn't want to play. We didn't take advantage of it . . . Once they started playing good thy got their confidence and worked us over . . . We just panicked, to tell you the truth."
So, in last night's 9 o'clock championship game, it was VCU, last year's surprise team of ECAC basketball, playing host Virginia, a physical team that toyed with James Madison, 71-58. GW and Madison played for third place at 7 p.m.
GW had one extenuating circumstance. The Colonials' front line was in foul trouble at the start of the second half, with starting forwards Mike Samson and Tom Glenn having three fouls each. So Tallent went with three guards and began the half in a zone defense.
After getting untracked, VCU scored almost at will, getting layups and pounding GW on the backboards behind 6-foot-9 front liners Ren Watson and Penny Elliot.VCU scored on 13 of 14 possessions to take a 65-61 lead with four minutes to play.
At that point, the Rams held a 23-3 rebounding advantage and were shooting 76 percent for the half. Considering all the layups they got it could have been higher. However, Watson and Elliot usually put in the misses.
Elliot scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, usually losing defender Glenn for layups. Glenn, in 21 minutes, produced only four points and two rebounds.
"We just quit playing," said Samson. "We came out playing a zone the second half and we were flat. We weren't aggressive. We weren't hustling."
That was the exact opposite of GW's first-half effort, when the Colonials played their best defensive basketball of the last two seasons in taking a 21-5 lead after 10 minutes and out-rebounding the Rams, 22-15, that first half.
Even when Watson picked up his fourth foul, with 11 minutes to play, the VCU onslaught was hardly affected.
"We were just flat the second half," said Samson. "You have to hustle to play good defense. You guys say our weakness is defense. We have the potential to play great defense."
Earlier in the week, GW center Mike Zagardo had noticed that, in the six weeks of presason practice, the Colonials had played with 10 times greater intensity than last year and that good defense was only hard work and concentration. Not only did GW's defense and rebounding break down, so did its offense, which produced 42 points the first half and attacked VCU's strength up in the middle. The Colonials lost their patience in the second half, took bad shots and passed up some open ones.
The turnaround spoiled the GW debut of Brian Magid, the transfer guard who, like in his Maryland days, evoked chants of "shoot, shoot" as soon as he touched the ball. He played 21 minutes, scored seven points, but only three in the second half when he played 16 minutes.
Bob Lindsay scored 17 points and Zagardo 16 to lead GW. But they had 24 of those by halftime.
In the opener, Virginia showed more muscle than its football team has in recent years. Coach Terry Holland substituted freely, using nine players in the first 6 1/2 minutes and taking his team's momentum away in an almost sure victory by putting even lesser reserves later in the half. Nevertheless, the Cavs led by 26 points in the second half.
"I just wanted to get everybody in." Holland said of a game in which 61 fouls were called by the three ACC officials. "A lack of developing depth hurt us last year."
Madison point guard Roger Hughett, the Dukes' best ballhandler, severely sprained his right ankle and will not play against GW. Steve Stielper of Madison led all scorers with 27 points