Despite reportedly ailing health, 7-foot-4 center Ralph Sampson scored 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead eighth-ranked Virginia to a 64-45 rout of Bucknell in the first round of the Virginia Tip-Off Tournament in University Hall tonight.
The Cavaliers will play Virginia Commonwealth, a 44-38 winner over Lafayette, Saturday at 9 p.m. for the championship. Bucknell will face Lafayette in the consolation at 7.
Sampson, who has spent the last five days in the University of Virginia Hospital battling tonsilitis and intestinal problems, also blocked three shots in his 32 minutes of action. Virginia worked the ball to perimeter shooters Jeff Lamp and Lee Raker, who netted 16 and 12 points, respectively.
Bucknell's 6-3 guard Al Leslie scored the first three baskets of the contest, but then Virginia took command. Lamp sank two free throws, Raker canned a jumper, Sampson threw home a dunk and Lamp connected from the corner as the Cavs took the lead for good at 8-6.
Leslie, the lone offensive weapon for Bucknell, was shut down after scoring 10 of his team's 18 first-half points when Virginia Coach Terry Holland sent in freshman guard Othell Wilson late in the first half.
"Othell was the difference for us," Holland said. "He played good defense and kept us in command going into halftime."
The Cavaliers broke the game open after Bucknell cut the lead to 10 points four minutes into the second half. Sampson converted a three-point play after being fouled on a slam dunk. Following a Bucknell turnover, Raker scored on a layup and Sampson culminated the streak by intercepting a long pass and taking the ball the length of the court for another thunderous dunk to give the Cavs a 50-33 lead.