Wally Rank scored seven straight points in the final two minutes, and free throws by Ron Chisholm and Arthur Graham in the final 1:14 enabled the San Jose Spartans to hold off a Virginia rally and upset the 12th-ranked Cavaliers tonight, 83-79, in the opening game of the 13th Cable Car Classic at Toso Pavilion.
The Spartans (4-3) parlayed a 42-41 halftime lead into a 12-point bulge (70-58) with 8:25 left. But the Cavaliers scored 11 straight points to bring the game back into reach, although San Jose State never relinquished the lead in the final 14 minutes.
The Spartans, coached by former Michigan State assistant coach Bill Berry, used a Michigan State-styled matchup zone to take 7-foot-4 freshman center Ralph Sampson out of the game. He scored only 12 points and played much of the game with foul trouble. Graham, a schoolyard legend who was the focal point of a recent film documentary called, "The American Game," finished with 25 points, 19 coming in the first half off Sampson.
The Spartans held Virginia to 11 field goads in the first half. The Gobblers kept the game close by hitting 19 of 20 free throws in the half, and 29 of 35 for the game. However, SJS shot an amazing 74 percent (33 of 47) to foil Terry Holland's changing defenses.
Virginia came within one point, 70-69, when their full-court press began to bother the Spartans. But San Jose held off the Cavs, first on a running slam dunk by Rank, who finished with 11 points, then on a six-foot turnaround jumper. Finally, another slam dunk by Rank, with 2:31 remaining, gave SJS a 76-69 lead.
Virginia cut the lead to two on a combination four-point play by Jeff Lamp, who finished with 22 points, and Lee Raker, who led the Cavs with 24. lBut they could get no closer, as first Chisholm and then Graham made two free throws to ice the game.
Virginia will play the loser of tonight's second game, between hose Santa Clara and Army, Saturday night.