On the way to shooting practice at Villanova Fieldhouse today, the George Washington basketball team's bus broke down. The players got out and pushed it.
Tonight, the Colonials pushed Villanova in its venerable pit, before the Wildcats went to a four-corner offense in the final 3 1/2 minutes and pulled away to an 89-77 Eastern Eight victory.
George Washington, which was in foul trouble most of the game, was trailing by only four points, 77-73, when Villanova went to its delay game, taking advantage of its quickness at guard.
The game marked the return of GW's ace guard Bob Lindsay, who injured his right knee against Villanova on Dec. 4. He came in when Mike Samson, GW's hottest scorer of late, got in foul trouble with five minutes left in the first half.
Lindsay who had been scheduled to return to duty in GW's next game, told Coach Bob Tallent just before the game that he felt he could play tonight. He played well before slipping on a wet spot on the floor and leaving the game with 4:39 to play.
Lindsay grimaced with pain and left the court limping badly. He was examined by Villanova's orthopedic specialist, who said Lindsay suffered no additional structural damage, according to GW trainer Tom Sulkowski.
"He slipped on some water on the floor, leaking from the roof," Sulkowski said. "The cartilage is still a little sensitive. That's why he felt the pain. We'll have him checked by our physician when we get home. But I think he should be able to play against Florida State Thursday."
Lindsay scored six points and played solid defense in his 14 minutes.
He was not the only Colonial ailing. Forward Tom Glenn didn't start because of strained tendons in his left knee.
The win, in which Villanova shot 67 percent in the second half after trailing by a point at halftime, kept the Widcats atop the Eastern Eight with a 5-0 record, 8-6 overall. GW, which had won three straight games, is 2-3 in the league and 9-7 overall.
"We're not at full strength right now," said Tallent, who was peased with his team's play despite the defeat. "I thought we played our butts off here. Villanova is a great team here. They may lose at the Palestra (0-5), but not here (3-0)."
Forward Alex Bradley and guard Tom Sienkiewicz were the key players for Villanova in the second half, shredding GW's 2-3 zone defense, which had been so effective in the first half.
Villanova stayed in the game in the first half because of its offensive rebounding. After making seven of its first eight shots, the Wildcats made only 10 of the last 31. But they got offensive rebounds on 10 of their 21 misses.
Then, in the second half, Bradley, a 6-foot-7 forward and one of the best players in the east, got hot, scoring 17 of his 21 points after intermission. Sienkiewicz scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half, including 10 in a row from the foul line.
Center Mike Zagardo was GW's top scorer with 20 points, despite playing the last 10 minutes with four fouls. Samson, who had scored 94 points in GW's three previous games, collected just 13 tonight. He got only eight shots, as Villanova did a good job of sagging back and cutting off passes to him.
GW, which opened in a man-to-man defense and fell behind, 8-0, went back to the man-to-man trailing, 61-58, with 11:41 left in the half. At the time, it seemed like a good way to shut down Bradley and Sienkiewicz from the outside.
But GW's offense committed three straight turnovers and the Wildcats extended the lead to 69-60, by which time Samson and Zagardo both had four fouls and the Colonials were back in the 2-3 zone.
But the Colonials never quit, and Brian Magid hit three baskets, the last one bringing GW to 77-73. Villanova then went four corners. Reserve Tom Bethea drove past Tate to the hoop, drawing Tate's fifth foul in the process. That made it 79-73 and Villanova scored the next six points, too.