When Georgeann Wells, West Virginia's 6-foot-7 women's basketball center, goes home to Columbus, Ohio, her brothers, Wesley and Steve, invite her out to the recreation center to participate in a dunking contest. She usually fares pretty well in the "family dunkathons."
"They can dunk off the backboard (while up for a rebound) but the slam is so weak it doesn't register," Georgeann Wells said yesterday after the Mountaineers had beaten George Washington, 66-62, on Alexis Basil's jump shot with five seconds remaining at Smith Center and Basil's one-and-one free throws at :002. The Colonials fell to 6-7 and 1-3 in the Atlantic 10; West Virginia is 12-4, 2-0.
Wells didn't get a dunk opportunity against GW yesterday. She was hardly a factor until the final six minutes, when she scored eight of her 10 points.
But Wells has dunked twice this season in games and each, she says, was memorable.
The first came in a 110-82 defeat of Charleston on Dec. 21. "It was a breakaway," Wells said. "Lisa Ribble passed it to half court and there it was. I took a couple of dribbles and I was up."
In a 109-76 victory over Xavier of Ohio, Wells was at half court and Dora Post threw the ball ahead of the field to Wells. She again slammed it through.
She has dunked countless times since, in practice and in warmups, but has yet to duplicate the feat in a game because most teams will not allow her to get free in the forecourt.
"She usually has to be on a break," West Virginia Coach Kittie Blakemore said. "She hasn't polished it to the point where she can power it up inside."
Knowing that helped GW stay close throughout the game. "Whether or not she would dunk against us was irrelevant," said 6-1 Kerry Winter, the player who was charged with containing Wells. "I know she can't just post up and turn and dunk the ball over you."
Midway through the second half, when Winter was busy keeping the ball away from Wells, Colonials Kelly Ballentine and Kathy Marshall were keeping the game close by hitting perimeter shots. Ballentine and Marshall scored 18 points apiece.
In the final minutes, Wells blocked two shots and made four field goals, two off offensive rebounds. At last, she was displaying some of the talent with which she has averaged 16 points and 10.7 rebounds and blocked 63 shots this season.
After the two dunks, Wells said, her game became uneven as she concentrated on duplicating the feat, to the detriment of the rest of her game.
"There was a lot of pressure on," Wells said. "People would come to the game just to see me slam."
Blackmore agreed: "She hadn't allowed herself to go out and play the game and not worry about dunking . . . until the last five minutes today. She has to let the dunks fall where they may."