PISCATAWAY, N.J., Jan. 11, 1979
In a collapse similar to the one it suffered against Maryland, George Washington's basketball team fell apart near the end of the first half tonight and struggling Rutgers capitalized for an 80-72 Eastern Eight victory.
GW was leading, 38-31, with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half. Rutgers scored the last nine points of the half and by the time the second half was seven minutes old, the Scarlet Knights had surged-to-a 59-46 lead.
"We needed tnat," said Rutgers' beleaguered coach, Tom Young, former Maryland star and head coach at Catholic and American who tonight had extra police protectioin against a reported death threat bvy a relative of rormer Rutgers guard Rodney Duncan.
Duncan, whose play beat GW here the last two years, had not played in the past seven games. Today he quit the team and announced he would seek to transfer, the first Rutgers player to do so in Young's six seasons here. Young refused to confirm or deny that a relative of Duncan's had threatened him Tuesday.
"It was a good game for us," Young said. "It took us 11 or 12 minute to get going. It took us that long to relax -- for a number of reasons. We started in a so-so fashion. It was important for us to come up tied or ahead at halftim. We needed that to pick us up."
Rutgers' defense became much more aggressive and the offense dominated inside. The Colonials hurt themselves with a couple of silly turnovers and two missed bonus situations in the final eight possessions of the first half.
That offset a brilliant half by GW guard Brian Magid, who scored 18 of his 24 points in the first 16 minutes. But GW Coach Bob Tallent refused to draw a parallel of this collapse to the one at Maryland when the Colonials, ahead by seven, were outscored 11-2 in the final 81 seconds of the half.
"If you allow guys to play defense like that, they'll be the best defensive team in the country," Tallent said. "The whole game changed on two things: Mike Samson getting in foul trouble and Rutgers getting more aggressive and the referees stopped blowing the whistle.
"I'll give them credit. They played good defense. But they had help. We're not the best ballhandlers in the world, but we don't throw it away for no reason at all. But you don't expect anything better on the road."
Tallent had reason to be upset, but he also is likely to have the same sort of home-cooking when Rutgers plays the return game at GW on Feb. 3, as happened a year ago. But Tallent obviously must try to protect any confidence his team has left, after they feel to 0-2 in the Eastern Eight and 5-7 overall.
GW plays three of its next four games against league opponents and could be out of the running for a home-court playofd advantage in the first round of the tournament by the time guard Bob Lindsay returns from a knee injury, perhaps in two weeks. With Lindsay healthy, Tallent could have replaced Samson with him and gone to three guards.
Instead, the Colonials had to go with inexperience, and it hurt.
"I don't blame the officiating personally," said Samson. "I just don't think we played well. We didn't run the offense properly. We didn't call picks on defense. They got easy shots everytime they got the ball inside."
Daryl Strickland was especially beneficial of that in the second half, scoring all 15 of his points.
"I know its sour grapes talking about the officiating," Magid said. "But tonight I thought it was justified. It was a homer job if I ever saw one. We did throw the ball away a few times and made some silly turnovers. Some were mental mistakes and we shouldn't make them.
"We have to avoid these spurts where we play bad and don't do anything offensively or defensively."
Magid's 26 points were a career high for the junior who is playing his first season after transferring from Maryland. It followed a 22-point night in GW's previous game after Magid had averaged less than 10 points.
"It took me a while to get my confidence back," he said. "The guys are looking for me more and, I'm looking for my shot more."