American University dared to run with Georgetown's nationally ranked basketball team last night. The Eagles, however, did not have the manpower to keep up with the swift Hoyas and lost, 88-80, at Fort Myer.
After the Hoyas harnessed all-star forward Russell (Boo) Bowers with (Word Illegible) and-one defense late in the (Word Illegible) they opened a lead as large as 17 points midway in the second half.
The Eagles, using a press and some Georgetown mistakes, closed to 71-66 before the Hoyas regained control and won their 16th of 18 games, the best record in the school's 72-year basketball history.
Tom Scates, Georgetown's intimidating 6-foot-11 center who had turned into a scorer the last two games, scored only one point last night. But he blocked nine Eagle shots and his four fellow starters scored at least 20 points each.
Guards John Duren and Eric (Sleepy) Floyd each scored 23, forward Steve Martin added 21 and forward Craig Shelton 20, accounting for all but one of Georgetown's points.
But the individual standout was Martin, who also collected eight rebounds and tied his career high of 10 assists. The key, though, was Martin's defense, when the Hoyas went to the box-and-one in an effort to stop Bowers, who had scored 16 of AU's first 32 points. Bowers ahd kept the game close, at 33-30 in Georgetown's favor.
Then Martin's defense and AU's manpower problems helped Georgetown score 10 straight points. That happened just after Robert (Piper) Harvey, AU's center, went to the bench with three fouls.
Bowers finished the game with 30 points, but he did not score -- or hardly touch the basketball -- for almost 13 1/2 minutes. By that time Georgetown had increased its lead to 17 points.
At halftime, when AU trailed, 49-40, Dave Gaines, the Detroit coach who was scouting the Hoyas for Saturday's game in the Motor City, said this Georgetown team was quicker than the one that nipped his Titans last year.
"If I was AU, I wouldn't come out running with them," he said. "They've got too much manpower."
But AU continued to run and Scates started swatting away shots -- getting eight blocks and two goal-tending calls in the second half before he fouled out with 3:20 to play.
Gary Williams, AU's first-year coach, explainecd that he does not have the personnel to drastically slow down a game, as Luke Griffin of St. Joseph's did so well against the Hoyas. What he was looking for was terrific transition defense by his Eagles.
But the Hoyas were too swift, getting their first six points of the game on fast breaks and getting 29 of their first 71 points either in transition or following offensive rebounds.
With Georgetown ahead, 69-54, with almost 10 minutes to play, American got back in the game quickly and the pro-Eagle crowd sensed upset possibilities as the Eagles put on a 12-2 spree that closed the Georgetown lead to 71-66.
But a pair of free throws by Martin, two blocked shots by Floyd gave Georgetown a 75-66 advantage with 3:38 to play and AU, now 11-8, never got closer than seven points the rest of the way. Georgetown made nine of its final 10 free throws.
Georgetown slowed the pace dramatically with about eight minutes to play, in the middle of (KEY OFF)(KEYWORD)u/'s rush. Later, Thompson second-guessed himself.
"It hurt our momentum when we held the ball," Thompson said. "If we had lost, it would have been my fault."
AU played its third straight game' without leading scorer Stan Lamb, who has been dismissed from school for academic reasons. His absence hurt the Eagles last night, especially when Martin shut off Bowers and the Eagles did not have another sure scorer to go to. Chris Dye, who started in Lamb's spot, did not score.
Of Bowers, Thompson said, "That's the best defense we've ever played on someone who scored 30 points."