George Washington University, with two new starters, played intense basketball for 40 minutes today against Rutgers, but remained winless in the Eastern Eight conference.
The Colonials' lack of cohesiveness on offense was their downfall again today. a young Rutgers team, led by freshman Kevin Black and Kenny Payne, played what its coach called its most organized game this season and won, 69-59, in a contest marred by a bench-clearing melee in the second half at Rutgers Athletic Center.
The brawl matched GW's Paul Gracza and Rutgers' Kelvin Troy. Troy went up to shoot, and, television replays showed, elbowed Gracza in the process. Gracza fouled Troy, too, and that was the foul officials called. Troy and Gracza came down entangled after the shot, and came up swinging. Both benches cleared but no ejections or fighting fouls were levied.
GW is 5-4 overall, 0-3 in the Eastern Eight. Rutgers is 7-4 overall and 3-1 in defense of its league championship.
Black and Payne provided the point as Rutgers took control of this game -- the league's television game of the week -- by the middle of the second half. Seven straight points by Black without an answer by GW gave the Scarlet Knights a 42-37 lead with 14:30 to play.
Payne then scored two of Rutgers' next three baskets on long jumpers.
Troy was involved in the key play down the stretch. With five minutes left and Rutgers leading 55-51, GW Coach Bob Tallent thought Oscar Wilmington and Brian Magid had trapped Troy in a corner for a jump bail. But there was no whistle and Troy passed underneath to center Roy Hinson for an easy layup.
Hinson, Rutgers' other freshman starter, scored 14 points. Payne and Black contributed 12 each for Rutgers' most balanced scoring this season. Daryl Strickland added 16 and Kelvin Troy nine. Those two had been taking half of Rutgers' shots and scoring half its points going into the game.
"It was the best game we played this year in the sense we really played under control, except for the first six or seven minutes," Rutgers Coach Tom Young said. "We got good shots, showed more patience and got the balanced scoring that I've said all along we need to win."
Black said he wanted to play particularly well today since the game was televised back to Washington. For Payne, his teammate and fellow All Met at Mackin High in Washington last season, there was little pressure.
"There's nowhere near as much pressure in college as there was in a Mackin-De Matha game," he said. "Maybe at tournament time there will be, but not now."
The pressure today was on GW. Its offensive inefficiency (37 percent shooting and 16 turnovers) negated senior forward Tom Glenn's best game this season. He collected 23 points on outside jumpers and followups of offensive rebounds, while getting 11 rebounds, most of a GW player this season.
Tallent started Bucky Roman in place of Curtis Smith at small forward and benched slumping guard Brian Magid. Curt Jeffries moved to Magid's position from the point and freshman Randy Davis became the lead guard.
GW used a four-corners offense extensively, helping center Mike Zagardo get clear for 13 shots today. He had only 51 shots in the first eight games, and today he looked rusty, missing at least three layups and scoring only nine points.