American University substitute forward Ray Voelkel grabbed himself a niche in basketball history last night in the Eagles' 105-87 victory over St. Mary's at For Myer.
Voelkel took down a missed shot by Mike Abner and put in a layup with 3:36 left in the game to establish himself as the greatest streak shooter in NCAA Division I annals. Voelkel's shot was his 24th consecutive field goal, breaking by one the four-year-old record of Randy Morgan of Samford (Ala.). It was Voelkel's fourth basket in four shots last night.
The visibly relieved Voelkel managed to tear himself away from the postgame champagne-pouring antics of Eagle well-wishers to explain what the record meant.
"It's a lot of pressure taken off me." Voelkel said. "I didn't know if it would happen tonight, but I was going to go for it. I was leaning in on all my shots tonight to try to draw the foul even if I missed the basket."
But Voelkel did not face that problem last night as he followed up three missed Eagle shots and sank an assisted layup giving himself a shot a extending the record Friday night at Delaware.
The 6-foot-5 senior, who nearly transferred from American after his sophomore year due to disenchantment with his lack of playing time, tied the record on Mark Garlito's 14th assist of the game with 5:02 remainig.
When he followed up Abner's miss by banking in a shot from the left side of the hoop, the crowd of 1,240 erupted into a two-minute standing ovation. Both the Eagle and Saint benches came onto the floor to congratulate him and he was presented the game ball.
"Before the game, we were all telling him we knew he would miss, plus we weren't goint to pass the ball to him," said Garlitos. "We did that to loosen him up."
Voelkel, who played 15 minutes, was removed 37 seconds after his record-breaking bucket with a total of 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists. The native of New York City and alumnus of Cardinal Spellman High School now has sunk 25 of 26 shots this season-he missed his second attempt-for a percentage of 96.1.
The rest of the Eagles were nearly as accurate as Voelkel last night. The team shot 63 percent to run up its highest point total since 1973. The victory was American's fifith in a row after opening the season with three straight losses.
The Eagles made only eight of 17 free throws in the first half but grabbed a 46-45 lead on Stan Lamb's jump shot after he stole the ball while American was in its man-to-man press.
But the hosts came out burning the nets in the second half, making 13 of their first 20 shots. Eight straight points in the first minute of the second half gave American a 54-45 lead and the Eagles continued to expand the margin behind picture-book fast breaks.
With Lamb scoring 12 of his gamehigh 25 points and boo Bowers adding nine, American built its lead to as many as 26 points while sinking 28 of 43 shots from the floor.
The Eagles set a team record with 31 assits-breaking the 3-year-old record by four. Garlito's 14 was one short of the school record.
Abner played 14 minutes and tied Tom Maleski of St. Mary's for game rebound honors with 10. The Eagle bench contributed 38 points, making 18 of 29 shots.
Robert hill led the Saints (5-3) with 16 points and Maleski had 14. CAPTION: Picture, Ray Voelkel drops in rebound of missed shot for first of four field goals on way to NCAA record. By Margaret Thomas-The Washington Post