Junior guard Dwayne Wood calmly sank two free throws with 11 seconds remaining to assure unbeaten Dunbar of Baltimore a 75-72 victory over pesky St. John's and the championship of the first boys Washington invitational Tournament yesterday at Capital Centre.
It was the fourth straight successful one-and-one conversion in the last three minutes for the Poets, who ended their season 23-0. St. John's finished 18-9.
"If they missed those one and ones, we win the game," said St. John's Coach Joe Gallagher "But the good teams don't miss them."
Dunbar continually threatened to break the game open but St. John's hustled its way within striking distance time and again. Each squad displayed the discipline of a well-schooled team.
After St. John's tied the game at 61 on guard Buddy Sass' steal and a layup by Cadet high scorer Bobby Donohoe (24 points) with 3:33 to play, Dunbar toned down its free-wheeling offense.
The Poets had three motives in this change of strategy: get the ball inside to their big men, draw fouls and force St. John's out of its zone defense. Dunbar succeeded on all.
Dunbar guards Wood and Kevin Bush lulled St. John's out of the zone and then Dunbar took a 63-61 lead on a layup by 6-foot-6 center Bryan Carver, who scored 19 points.
When Donohoe's jump shot at the other end rimmed out, Billy Freitag fouled Scott. He converted both free throws to give Dunbar a 65-61 advantage with 1:40 left.
From there, it was left to St. John's to play catch-up, after Carver's ensuing layup opened the lead to 67-61.
St. John's, using a trapping defense, almost did it.
However, with the Poets patiently working the ball for layups or foul shots they made with unerring accuracy, St. John's could not reduce the deficit to less than three until the game's final 15 seconds.
Then, Sass made his second steal of the quarter and hit his only basket of the game, drawing the Cadets to 73-72.
They then fouled Wood with 11 seconds to play and he sank both ends of his bonus situation.
"We knew it would come down to the foul line and we had the confidence that we could hit them under pressure," said Dunbar Coach Dave Wade.
For the game, the Poets were 11 for 16 at the foul line, but eight for eight in the final two minutes.
Barry Scott, a 6-6 forward, led Dunbar with 24 points.