Sam Clancy kept a lackadaisical Pittsurgh team in the basketball game with mighty first-half offensive rebounding tonight and then the aggressive Pantherdefense helped eliminate George Washington from the Eastern Eight tournament, 77-68.
For the third straight year, the Colonials fell to Pitt in the first round of the playoffs. Tonight these two teams, neither of which has played well recently, needed any edge either could get to avoid ending the season.
The Panthers got it with Clancy's sharp play. According to GW Coach Bob Tallent, one-sided officiating in the second half permitted Pitt defenders to hack at will without fouls being called.
GW still has itself to blame for not being in Friday's semifinal against Villanova. The Colonials, playing four-corners-to-score at the start of the second half, could not protect a lead. The momentum swung and Pitt took the lead with 9 1/2 minutes to play and never trailed again.
GW was hurt by the early departure of forward Tom Glenn with five fouls. He was one of two Colonials to foul out and center Mike Zagardo played with four for the final 8 1/2 minutes.
Zagardo and guard Brian Magid each scored 21 points for GW and Glenn had 12, only two in the second half. Clancy, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound forward-center, led Pitt with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Tallent spent much of his post-game press conference sarcastically ripping the three-man officiating crew of Gene Steratore. Tom Adams and Mike Sierco.
"Darn if I can figure it out," he started. "We're the most unaggressive team in the country. We play a zone defense the entire game and our guys foul out. They play full-court pressure and don't. It's just amazing.
"Evidently (Pitt Coach) Tim Grgurich is one of the best defensive coaches in the country because they can strip the ball better than any team in the country."
The home court has proved a big advantage in the tournament's two years under the format, providing it for opening-round games before action moves to Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Duquesne became the only home team to lose in the two years, upset tonight by West Virginia, 95-87, in the Dukes' gym here.
Pitt (17-10) had lost seven of its past 11 games, usually falling well behind. Tonight was no exception as GW jumped to a 19-8 advantage. Then Clancy brought the Panthers back with 16 points and nine rebounds. They trailed at halftime by 36-34.
"What went wrong?" Tallent commented, "othing, It's called the human factor. We worked for two days trying to block (Clancy) off the boards. He's so strong and so mobile. He plays better on a team that doesn't shoot well. He ought to play on a team that shoots 30 percent; he's the best offensive rebounder we've played against."
In the second half, GW checked Clancy on the offensive boards by assigning a guard, Magid, to block him off coming down the lane. That worked, but little else did for the Colonials.
Twice they had the ball with three-point leads and another time with a five-point lead. But they were unable to protect the advantage, missing some easy inside shots and yielding some turnovers that started them toward their 11th loss in 26 games.
Typical of the defense Pitt played was the way the Panthers stripped freshman Oscar Wilmington of the ball twice, the second instance by Dave Olinger resulting in a vicious dunk by Clancy and a 54-52 Pittsburgh lead with 9:26 to play.
"They were fouling me and the refs were calling it early," Wilmington said. "Then they didn't. I don't know what they were thinking. They started calling it one way at that time."
In other Eastern Eight playoff games Villanova defeated Massachusetts, 85-63; West Virginia upset Duquesne, 95-87, and Rutgers defeated St. Bonaventure, 76-74.