West Virginia grabbing key offensive rebounds on its final possession of regulation and its first of overtime, shaded American University, 71-69, last night at Fort Myer.
The final margin was provided on a pair of free throws by Lowes Moore with nine seconds to play. AU star Boo Bowers, harried to his worst shooting night of the season by a physical Mountaineer defense, missed a 25-foot bid to tie at the buzzer.
Bowers totaled 19 points on seven-for-26 shooting, but the concern of the Eagle star, Coach Gary Williams and his teammates was over the physical condition of AU's Bob (Piper) Harvey after he fell to the floor in a rebounding collision.
Harvey was taken to Georgetown Hospital with a possible concussion and neck injuries, but X-rays were negative and he was released after one stitch was taken in his lower lip.
He lay face down at one end of the court for nearly 25 minutes after falling with 4:20 to play. Dr. Mark Walling, the AU team dentist, said Harvey told him that he had been elbowed in the side of the head.
Williams said that Harvey was not moved for so long as a precaution.
Last season, Harvey suffered a concussion in a game against Catholic University.
The play on which Harvey was injured started with the 6-foot-7 senior missing a baseline jumper. Then, coming in from an angle, AU forward Dennis Ross was off balance going for the tipin in this loosely officiated game. His momentum carries him into Harvey, who struck his head on the floor.
Although Bowers was held under 20 points for only the second time this 8-7 AU season, the 6-foot-5 junior seemed to have clinched the game when he niftly spun around his man in a spread offense, drove, dunked the ball and was fouled by Phil Collins with 1:45 to play. When Bowers sank the free throw, the Eagles led, 60-57.
AU, which rotated between 1-3-1 and 3-2 zone defenses all night, confused the Mountaineers enough that they had to call a timeout and did not get a shot off for 41 seconds. But when they did Collins was fouled on the attempt by Tom Pfotzer with 1:04 to play.
Collins, sophomore center who would score seven of West Virginia's 10 overtime points, made his first free throw, but missed the second. Bowers went high and got his left hand on the rebound, but could not control it and Mountaineer guard Joe Fryz scooted across the lane and retrieved the ball.
With six seconds left Moore whipped a dynamic inside-outside pass to Fryz and he hit an open 17-footer from the left side of the foul line to tie the game at 60. A 35-footer by Bowers at the buzzer did not come close.
"I couldn't get it from the left hand to my right to control the ball," Bowers said of the missed rebound. "That's one play I wish I could have over. I couldn't get the ball. If I had, we would have gotten it and run out the clock."
AU freshman center Ray McCarthy, off a nice pass from Chris Dye, started the overtime with a three-point play.
Collins missed a 12-footer at the other end, but the rebound slipped through the hands of Eagle Ed Sloane and WVU's Russell Todd recovered Moore followed with a successful jumper, making it 63-62.
At this point, Williams faced a decision: stall or try to work the ball inside and draw fouls. He chose the latter and his team became impatient, both McCarthy and Bowers taking low-percentage shots.
Those two misses plus a Bowers misfire and a Moore steal from Bowers helped West Virginia take a 68-63 lead. But AU came back and caught up on a questionable goal-tending call after Moore appeared to make a good block on Bowers' breakway with 1:30 to play.
The Mountaineers ran the clock down and called time with 19 seconds left.
"We spread because I wanted Lowes to take it one on me," said WVU Coach Gale Catlett, "because they don't have anyone who can guard him one on one."
As Moore drove to the basket, Sloane fouled him. Moore made both ends of the bonus situation.
"There's no way I'm critical of the way my kids played," Williams said. "It's tough to get back in the game mentally after the Bob Harvey incident, but that's no excuse. West Virginia played good basketball down the stretch."
The Mountaineers' triangle-and-two defense also worked well on Bowers. It was physical, kept him from getting the ball and made him rush his shots when he did touch it. Bowers said it was the best defense a team has used on him this season.
"Sometimes you get the fox and sometimes the fox gets you," Catlett said. "We knew we couldn't stop him. To cut down his efficiency was our purpose."