Both coaches were apprehensive before the final. Hartman was concerned about Thompson. "He doesn't know how tall he is," the Saluki coach said. "That whole Marquette bunch jumps right out of the place." McGuire wondered if he could disrupt the Salukis' even pace. "They don't look like a club that can be shaken," he said.
But Marquette almost shook Southern right at the start. Wolf flipped in five long jumpers, Thompson twisted in a few layups, Burke shot a couple of two-hand sets and the Warriors led 34-23 at the half. But the Salukis did not panic. They tightened up their defense in the second half, nibbled away slowly at the Marquette lead and suddenly broke loose. Johnson, Frazier, Bechtold, Garrett and Clarence Smith began throwing in baskets, and they outscored the Warriors 25-4 in the next eight minutes to go ahead 59-46. The game was over. Frazier had 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Hartman broke out in a big smile, but he blanched a little when someone asked if he wanted to play UCLA. "You sure got a nasty sense of humor," he replied. "I think we want to set around and tooth this victory for a while." Over in the Marquette dressing room, McGuire said wearily, "We lost our poise. They didn't." He was right.
THE SMALL COLLEGES
With Southern Illinois out of the NCAA college division tournament by choice, eight hopeful regional winners gathered in Evansville. Kentucky Wesleyan, the defending champion, was the favorite, but WINSTON-SALEM, a team that had been overlooked in the national rankings all year despite a 28-1 record, was determined to make the most of its first shot at the championship.
Winston-Salem Coach Clarence (Big House) Gaines, a jolly 290-pounder with a soft voice, liked his Rams to run and gun, and his game plan was simple. He told his players, "When you need it give it to the money man." The money man is Earl Monroe, a slick 6'4" shooter who had scored 1,236 points for a 42.6 average and had pro scouts tripping over themselves trying to get to him. Monroe scored 29 points as Winston-Salem beat Long Island University 62-54 in a slowdown and 24 more in a racehorse 82-73 victory over Kentucky Wesleyan in the semifinal. But he was at his best in the final against SOUTHWEST MISSOURI, which had beaten Valparaiso 86-72 and Illinois State 93-76 in earlier games. The Bears shut off Winston-Salem's fast break with some tough rebounding and tried to shackle Monroe with a 1-2-2 zone. But Earl, firing away unconcernedly, poured in 40 points (to increase his alltime college one-season record to 1,329), including two free throws with 25 seconds left to put the Rams ahead 77-74. Then Monroe put on a show. He dribbled the ball between his legs, behind his back and, finally, through three opposing players as Coach Gaines watched admiringly. "He makes coaching pretty easy," said Big House happily.
The six-day NAIA tournament in Kansas City seemed to go on continuously. It started with 32 teams, all district champions, and the sound of basketballs thumping loudly on the hardwood floor in Municipal Auditorium filled the air from early morning until late at night for the first three days. By Saturday the tournament was down to two teams—St. Benedict's of Atchison, Kans. and Oklahoma Baptist.
Top-seeded ST. BENEDICT'S had reached the finals by beating Linfield (Ore.) 80-75, Southern State (Ark.) 67-56, St. Mary's of San Antonio, 88-73 and Morris Harvey (W. Va.) 73-70. OKLAHOMA BAPTIST, seeded No. 3, had beaten Alcorn A&M (Miss.) 55-52, Valdosta State (Ga.) 70-62, Southwestern Louisiana 66-65 and Central Washington 78-68.
The big problem for St. Benedict's was Al Tucker, skinny and 6'8", who had scored 117 points in four previous games. Coach Ralph Nolan figured he had to keep Tucker away from the basket and started off playing him man-to-man. But Tucker beat that strategy. When he was not firing in long-range jumpers he shuffled inside for hooks, drives, reverse layups and stuffs. Tucker jammed in 47 points to earn acclaim as the tournament's MVP, but not quite enough to give the Baptists a victory. St. Benedict's had better balance. Darryl Jones, a nifty feeder, and Bill Wewers each scored 20 points and led the Ravens to a 71-65 win for the championship.
On a slightly lower level but with as much action, MOBERLY, Mo. won the National Junior College title in Hutchinson, Kans. Moberly edged San Jacinto of Pasadena, Texas 56-55 on Harrison Stepter's free throw with 10 seconds to play.