Mike Samson scored a career-high 35 points against Pittsburgh Saturday night, but GW Coach Bob Tallent gopes it will be his defensive play that will lead the Colonials to victory tonight against American University at Fort Myer. Game time is 8 p.m.

Sampson, a 6-foot-4, hard-playing forward who made 15 of 22 shots en route to tying the Smith Center scoring record in GW's 94-83 Eastern Eight victory, probably will be matched against AU forward Boo Bowers.

Bowers had 29 points a year ago against GW in AU's 82-78 triumph and has teamed with junior guard Stan Lamb to make American one of only two Division I teams in the country with two 20 point-plus scorers.

Lamb scored 28 points Saturday night but fouled out in regulation play as AU dropped an 85-83 doubleovertime decision to Bucknell for its third straight defeat.

Bowers, who had 21 points against Bucknell, hit a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. It was the third time this season he has made a basket as time expired to win a game or force an extra session. It will be Samson's job to make sure it doesn't happen against GW.

"I was a little disappointed in the Bucknell game," said AU Coach Gary Williams, who saw his Eagles drop to 3-1 in the East Coast Conference. "We had control most of the time and kept letting them back in the game. The one good thing is that the players don't have too long to dwell on the loss.

"GW played well against Pitt. We'll have to work hard to keep them off the boards. With their size, they often get a lot of second shots. If they get hot, they can run 10 points in a hurry."

The Colonials (6-6) improved to 1-2 in the league and tonight's contest is the only nonleague game in the next four. GW hosts Massachusetts Wednesday and travels to Villanova Saturday.

Saturday's contest was a "heck of a game for Samson," said Tallent. "He could have been nine for 10 in the first half if he hadn't taken those two shots out of his range. I told him about it at halftime."

Except for 14th-ranked Georgetown's 78-64 victory over Manhattan and Virginia's 67-62 upset of No. 8 North Carolina State, the fortunes of war were unkind to area schools Saturday.

Louisville's entourage of dunk-shot artists used their quick feet and a 30-point show by Darrell Griffith to run past Maryland, 99-84.

The Terps (11-4) failed to contain 12th-ranked Louisville, (12-3), which shot 60 percent. Griffith, who has been seeing a doctor to learn to concentrate, may not need any further sessions. In addition to tying his season high and increasing his team-leading total of dunks to 29, the 6-4 All-America guard had five steals, four rebounds and three assists.

Maryland's 6-10 center Larry Gibson enjoyed a fine 11-for-15 shooting performance and finished with 25 points. Greg Manning and Ernest Graham had 18 points each but the Cardinals outrebounded the Terps and forced numerous turnovers to steal the victory.

Howard (9-4) ran into a pair of jump-shot and dunk artists also, in Morgan State's Anthony Young (28 points) and Garcia Hopkins (21) and fell at home, 80-74.

Keith Dickson's foul shot with no time remaining lifted New Hampshire over visiting Navy, 72-71. With the score 71-all, Navy's Bruce Grooms missed on a drive and New Hampshire's Randy Kinzly grabbed the rebound. He passed to Dickson, who was fouled by Grooms at the buzzer. The loss was Navy's (7-6) second one-point defeat in its last three games.

Colgate gook advantage of shorthanded Catholic, which suited up only eight players, and romped, 94-79, in Hamitlton, N.T.

Georgetown, getting good efforts from John Duren, Craig Shelton and Eric Floyd, had no trouble winning its 12th game in 14 outings. Manhattan, 2-10 and playing without injured 25-point per game star JoJo Walters, was never in the game against the quicker, stronger Hoyas. Shelton (16 points, seven rebounds), Duren (16 points six rebounds and 11 assists) and Floyd (21 points) sparked blitzes of 10-0, 18-2 and 12-0 that knocked the Jaspers silly.

Notre Dame (8-1) may emerge as the top-ranked team in the nation this week, thanks to a 65-60 thriller over 13th-ranked Marquette and Ohio State's 69-66 overtime upset of No. 4-ranked Illinois. The Illini (15-1) had knocked off top-ranked Michihan earlier in the week. MSU (9-3) suffered its second Big Ten loss, falling to Purdue, 52-50.

Notre Dame, ranked second last week, got 21 points from former Paint Branch All-Met Tracy Jackson.

In other games involving ranked teams, No. 3 North Carolina used its old reliable four-corners offense to stop No. 7 Duke, 74-68, and No. 10 Arkansas, 63-57; No. 5 LSU bounced back from two straight losses to beat Florida, 80-72; No. 6 UCLA outgunned crosstown nemesis USC, 89-86; No. 9 Indiana State got 27 points and 18 rebounds from Larry Bird and slammed Bradley, 93-74; SMU watched No. 11 Texas A&M mill six free throws in the final minute and escaped with a 78-76 upset; No. 15 Kansas ripped Oklahoma State, 82-70; No. 16 Michigan failed to contain Wisconsin's Claude Gregory (28 points) and lost, 77-66; No. 18 Temple toyed with Lafayette, 72-51 after losing to Penn., 78-74; No. 19 Long Beach State fell to Cal-State Fullerton, 81-77, in overtime, and No. 26 Syracuse bested Connecticut, 74-60.

In other games tonight, Delaware visits Virginis, George Mason hosts Southastern and Bowie State entertains St. Mary's (Md.).