The preliminaries were over in the NCAA and the winners were off to Raleigh, Lexington, Wichita and Albuquerque for the Regionals (page 26).
Loyola of Chicago's George Ireland acted like a man whistling in a graveyard before his team met Houston in the Midwest playoff in Salt Lake City. He said things like "Our players are all hopped up" and "We'll start pressing them when they leave the dressing room." But Ireland's little men were no match for Elvin Hayes and his big friends. The Cougars easily broke Loyola's press with overhead passes and Hayes made 20 of 28 shots, scored 49 points and grabbed 27 rebounds as Houston won 94-76.
New Mexico State earned the dubious pleasure of meeting UCLA in the West Regionals. But the Aggies had to come from behind to beat Weber State 68-57, also in Salt Lake City. With 10 minutes to go, Weber had a three-point lead. Then Jimmy Collins scored seven straight points and New Mexico State went on to win. "We might get some momentum going in Albuquerque's snake pit," mused Aggie Coach Lou Henson hopefully.
Marquette, breezing along with a nine-point lead early in the second half on the rebounding and scoring of husky George Thompson (he had 33 points), suddenly found itself in a dogfight with Bowling Green in the Mideast eliminations at Kent, Ohio. Two long shots by Jimmy Burke in the last 90 seconds pulled the Warriors through, 72-71. East Tennessee, which had beaten Murray State 79-75 in the Ohio Valley playoff, surprised Florida State 76-69.
In the East, at Kingston, R.I., Boston College figured it had a chance to take unbeaten St. Bonaventure with a furious man-to-man press and a fast break. But 6'11" Bob Lanier and Billy Butler were too much for the Eagles. Between them, they scored 66 points and took down 26 rebounds, and the Bonnies won 102-93.
Columbia, in the tournament for the first time in 17 years, celebrated by whipping La Salle 83-69 in College Park, Md. The well-coached Lions never deviated from their game plan against La Salle's zone defenses. They worked the ball around 7' Dave New-mark on a high post, overloaded one side and hit the free man—either Heyward Dotson, Jim McMillian or Roger Walaszek—on the other side. It was effective and Dot-son had his best game ever, scoring 32 points on short jumpers, drives and layups.
Davidson, however, had its hands full with St. John's. The Redmen, attacking patiently and defending well, led 68-67 with 5:14 to go. Then Rudy Bogad fouled out. Mike Maloy, Davidson's good 6'7" sophomore, dropped in two layups, and St. John's fell apart. Davidson stole the ball five times, 6'6" Doug Cook scored six points in the last minute, and the Wildcats won 79-70.
New York's NIT, meanwhile, had a 16-team field ready to go. The tournament opens Thursday night in Madison Square Garden with St. Peter's (22-2) playing Marshall (17-7) and Duke (21-5) meeting Oklahoma City (20-6). Other first-round pairings: Friday night—Temple (19-8) vs. Kansas (19-7) and Villanova (18-8) vs. Wyoming (18-8); Saturday afternoon—Army (20-4) vs. Notre Dame (18-8) and LIU (21-1) vs. Bradley (19-8); Saturday night—Fordham (18-7) vs. Duquesne (18-6) and Dayton (17-9) vs. West Virginia (19-8).