Top-ranked Dunbar (D.C.) fought back from a slow start to defeat Southern of Baltimore, 61-54, in overtime last night in the Nike-Kenner Tip-Off tournament at Georgetown's McDonough Arena.

Johnny Rhodes sparked Dunbar (4-0) to outscore Southern 13-5 in overtime to earn the right to meet Dunbar (Balt.) in tonight's final.

Dunbar (Balt.) defeated Coolidge, 73-58. Donta Bright paced the Poets (1-0) with 21 points.

Rhodes scored four of his 18 points in the overtime to lead the Crimson Tide. James "Scoop" Marshall scored 13 of his 17 points from the foul line. David Cason led Southern (0-1) with 22 points, including four three-pointers.

"They told me to go ahead and be a leader," Rhodes said, "so I had to go and do something."

Southern's Kevin Simpson hit an 18-foot jumper at the start of overtime, but Rhodes drove the lane and, switching to his left hand, scored while being fouled. He converted the free throw to give Dunbar a 51-50 lead. Rhodes then stole the ball at midcourt and made a layup.

Dunbar trailed 15-5 after one quarter. "We have a habit, from time to time, of starting off slow," Coach Michael McLeese said. "We had a problem with the bus. We got here late and rushed to warm-up and never really got in sync in the first quarter."

Dunbar gradually closed the gap before finally taking its first lead on Damon Singletary's three-pointer with 2:24 left in the third quarter.

The game became progressively more physical, to the point where in the second half virtually no player could take the ball in the lane without being fouled.

"They are traditionally a physical ballclub," McLeese said. "We knew it would be that way, but we like to get physical too."

Dunbar (Balt.) led comfortably most of the way, but Coolidge (0-1) made a late run, with Errick Pratt's three-pointer with 1:45 left making it 60-54. The Colts continued to press, but Dunbar converted its free throws.

The combination of Terrance Alexander and Michael Lloyd from the outside and Bright inside paced the Poets to a 37-28 halftime lead. Alexander scored 10 first-half points and Lloyd had nine, while Bright controlled both backboards.

John Stuckey kept the Colts in contention, scoring 17 points.