"We're going to walk across the water," said Wagner Coach P.J. Carlesimo of his team's impending trip back home to Staten Island from St. John's in the New York City borough of Queens, where the Seahawks had just jolted Alabama 86-74 in the first round of the Joe Lapchick Memorial Tournament. None of the Tide players was about to dispute the Seahawks' ability to walk anywhere, including on air, having been out-rebounded 36-33 by a team that won only seven games last season. Wagner, which has an enrollment of only 2,500, shot 57%. St. John's took the other opening-round game, edging American University 72-70 when Reggie Carter sank a driving layup with 12 seconds remaining. The Redmen then won the tournament for the fourth year in a row, bringing Wagner back to earth 108-91 as Rudy Wright scored 22 points and Ron Plair 20. Alabama pulled itself together in the consolation game, smothering American 110-87.
Georgia Tech, another highly regarded Southern team, was jarred 78-73 at Seton Hall despite 35 points and 11 rebounds by Sammy Drummer. For the Pirates the big gun was Nick Galis, who had 26 points.
After a 115-66 loss at Syracuse, Whittier Coach Dave Jacobs decided it was best to rationalize. "We got $3,500 out of this game and got a chance to see our faults against a big-time team. If we can keep the pain of getting whipped like this in perspective, it'll help us back in our conference," Jacobs said.
Jeff Ruland's 23 points and 16 rebounds led Iona past St. Lawrence 107-77, Dale Solomon's 23 points helped Virginia Tech wipe out Buffalo State 119-66 and Sly Williams' 22 points and four steals paced Rhode Island's 77-59 win over Mansfield (Pa.) State.
Sophomore Jeff Lamp, whose jumping was restricted last season because of sore ankles, was in fine fettle as Virginia won its own Tip-off Tournament for the third straight time. Lamp had 19 points as the Cavaliers knocked off James Madison 71-58 in the first round and got two breakaway dunks and 29 more points as they whipped Virginia Commonwealth 81-60 in the championship contest.
1. DUKE (1-0)
2. N. CAROLINA STATE (3-0)
3. IONA (1-0)
As is their tradition, Western Kentucky fans waved red towels during the Hilltoppers' season opener against Duke. No wonder the Blue Devils charged like enraged bulls through the Western defense, getting 26 of their 34 field goals on layups. Leading the 78-53 runaway were Jim Spanarkel, who had 25 points, and Mike Gminski, who added 24.
In Purdue's 81-72 defeat of Southwestern Louisiana, Joe Barry Carroll scored 27 points, got 11 rebounds and blocked six shots. Andrew Toney of the Ragin' Cajuns had a game-high 29 points. Minnesota worked the ball inside to James Jackson for 21 points and to Kevin McHale for 19 while defeating Idaho 72-57. But another team that was predicted to be a Big Ten contender, Ohio State, lost 87-86 at Butler as the Bulldogs' Tom Orner hit a 15-foot jumper with one second left.