George Washington, a basketball team that had not made a successful rally this season, staged one in a big way against St. Bonaventure last night -- a big and winning way.
GW was down 16 points with 5:40 to play when Brian Magid ignited the blitz with a long jump shot. In little more than two minutes, colonials were two behind and in a 4:02 span, they outscored the tiring, flustered Bonnies, 25-2, and came away with an 81-76 Eastern Eight victory at Smith Center.
In the process, Magid scored 10 of his game-high 26 points and broke his coach's school record for most successive free throws (41). Magid now has 44 and predicted that he will break the NCAA record of 67 held by Bob Lloyd of Rutgers.
"It's going to fall," said Magid, in an uncharacteristic boast. "If I do miss, it'll be my own fault, because it'll be my destiny to control. It's all in the head. It's all mental."
And it was mostly mental the way the Colonials exploited the fatiguing Bonnies, who played without star scorer Earl Belcher, for their first Eastern Eight win in four games.
"You could see it in their eyes," said freshman forward Oscar Wilmington, another hero of the night. "They lost their composure. We got in their way and they didn't know what to do."
It was 70-54 when Magid launched the shot that began the comeback. Then he stole the ball from Lacey Fullmer and Curtis Jeffries fed him for a layup. The small crowd of 2,900 increased its decibel count and the Colonials pressed with abandon. The results: five more turnovers in succession, Magid hitting a pair of free throws on the tail end to make it 70-58 with 3:26 to play.
Two foul shots by Bonnie center Eric Stover at this juncture accounted for the only Bonnie points during the Colonial comeback. But GW kept attacking and the Bonnies again played into Colonial hands, firing up long shots from the outside.
When Welmington tipped a missed Paul Gracza free throw out to Magid near midcourt, it was 72-71 and the Colonials had the opportunity to take the lead for the first time since the opening two minutes.
They did not squander it. The 6-foot-3 Wilmington star, who earlier brought the crowd alive with two nifty dunks, showed that he also could play solid, funoamental basketaball. Driving the basenne, he threw a pass to Gracza cutting to the basket and the 6-foot-6 reserve made the layup or a 73-72 lead.
The Bonnies, totaling 23 turnovers -- eight in the final five minutes -- never got the ball past midcourt. On a double-team off the press, Gracza knocked the ball away from Mark Jones. Trying to reclaim it, Jones saw the ball snatched out of his hands by Wilmington, who dribbled in for the layup and a 75-72 lead.
Bod Tallent, the always candid GW coach, was his usual self after this one, in which he lost his free-throw record and benched star center Mike Zagardo during the GW comeback.
"Their depth hurt them. They got tired at the end," he said after his teams's record improved to 7-4. "They played extremely well. Benching Ziggy makes us quicker. Obviously, he's not fast. Let's be blunt."
Said Magid: "This is the best in on a team I've ever played on. I had pins from my head to my toes. 'I've never played on a team that won a league or NCAA championship, but the feeling's got to be very, very similar."
The loss ruined a fine night's work by St. Bonaventure's Alfonza Jones, a 6-foot-4-defensive and rebounding specialist whose previous career scoring high was 17 points. He collected 25 tonight and was instrumental in helping his team gain the 16-point advantage.