Mike O'Reilly, who was having so much trouble making free throws he prayed he wouldn't get fouled in the final minutes, made two with no time remaining to give George Washington an 84-82 double-overtime victory over Rhode Island in an Atlantic 10 game last night at Smith Center.
Rhode Island, which led by 12 midway in the second half, didn't choose O'Reilly to send to the line. Actually, the Rams were shocked anyone went at all.
Rusty Cordua, formerly of Old Mill High School, missed a jump shot with two seconds to play and was called for pushing O'Reilly as he followed his shot. The buzzer sounded as the official's whistle blew and Rams Coach Claude English and his players expected a third overtime.
"It was a horrible call," said English. "It was the second-worst call I've ever seen in my life. If anyone was fouled, it was Cordua."
"He definitely fouled me going for the ball," said O'Reilly, a freshman guard who had made seven of 27 free throws before last night. "I haven't been making any, (free throws) but, for some reason, I didn't think about missing. All of the guys told me to go up there and make them.
"I did the same thing I always do and made them. I remember some games, I would run away from the ball so I wouldn't get fouled. I would hope Dave (Hobel) would get fouled because he is a better shooter."
The victory kept the Colonials' slim hopes alive of finishing fourth in the East Division and obtaining a home game for the playoffs. GW is 12-10 and 3-6 in the conference; Rhode Island is 7-15 and 2-8.
O'Reilly, who made five of six from the line and finished with 12 points, might not have had his chance had not the Colonials remembered Mike Brown.
Brown, at 6 feet 9, had a three- to five-inch advantage over the Rams, scoring 16 first-half points en route to a collegiate-high 28. However, after getting his eighth basket of the first half to give the Colonials a 27-26 lead with 6:40 to play, he stopped scoring--for nearly 18 minutes.
"I don't know what happened. I just didn't get the ball inside any more," said Brown, who also had 13 rebounds. "I was open a few times, but the ball didn't come inside."
During Brown's noticeable absence, the Rams got good second-half scoring efforts from reserves Cordua (19 points) and Tony Taylor to increase a 43-34 halftime lead to 62-49 with just over 11 minutes left.
Chester Wood (11), Ron White (six) and Hobel (seven) started scoring and GW got back in the game. White's basket cut the deficit to eight points before Brown scored three inside baskets, the third one tying the game at 77 with 1:23 to play.
The Rams played for the game winner, but Todd Bozeman missed a jump shot with 29 seconds left. GW got its chance to win, but Troy Webster's 20-footer bounced off the front rim and the game went into overtime.
Brown began overtime with a layup; Cordua made a short bank shot with 2:29 left. But the Rams' Horace Owens missed an 18-footer at the buzzer and it stayed 79-79.
In the second overtime, Taylor and Brown made layups to make it 81-81. Taylor then drew a foul on Brown, his fifth, and made one free throw to give the Rams an 82-81 lead with 2:37 to play.
Steve Frick (eight points, six rebounds), playing his best game of the season, tied the game with a free throw with 1:42 left before Cordua's shot and foul in the final seconds.