WASHINGTON -- Baltimore Dunbar blew a 14-point first-half lead but came back to defeat Washington Dunbar, 75-63, in a semifinal game of the Gonzaga/D.C. Classic at American
University last night.
Admitting that they were looking past their Washington opponent to a possible rematch with St. Anthony's, which beat the Poets on Dec. 14 in Jersey City, N.J., the Poets nearly missed making it to today's 4 p.m. championship game.
"I'm sure it [the St. Anthony's rematch] was in the back of their minds," said Dunbar coach Pete Pompey. "When you have been through a situation like that it has to be in the back of their minds."
Dunbar (8-1) lost to St. Anthony's, 66-65, in a first-round game of the Skyline Classic at St. Peter's College. The Poets have maintained that the officiating played a role in the loss, and they are anxious for another shot at St. Anthony's, which beat Gonzaga, 65-42, in the other semifinal.
USA Today ranks St. Anthony's No. 2 in the country and Baltimore Dunbar No. 12. Washington Dunbar is No. 20.
The script for last night's victory was basically the same as it ha been in all of the Poets' victories this season. They simply had too much balance for Washington Dunbar, which matches them in size and speed.
"What is it with this team [Baltimore Dunbar]? Is it their poise or what?" asked a perplexed Washington Dunbar coach Mike McLeese. "They just seem unshakable."
Junior guard Michael Lloyd led the Poets with 21 points, senior guard Terrance Alexander and sophomore forward Keith Booth each had 16, and junior center Donta Bright had 12. Senior forward Kevin Washington added eight points with some key baskets down the stretch.
Junior forward Johnny Rhodes led Washington Dunbar with 26 points.
"We had been looking past our last two games and lookinforward to playing St. Anthony's," said Lloyd, who had 27 points in a first-round win over McQuaid Thursday night. "That's a big issue with us."
The Poets beat Dunbar of Washington, 86-68, in the championship game of the Nike/James Kenner Tournament Dec. With Lloyd scoring 14 first-quarter points, including the last 11, Dunbar raced to a 27-14 lead and seemed on the verge of running away from The Crimson Tide again.
The Poets led at the half, 41-31, but Dunbar of Washington rallied in the third quarter. The Crimson Tide used a 9-2 run at the end of the quarter to erase a 10-point Poets lead and get within 49-44.
Behind 53-48 early in the fourth quarter Washington Dunbar (5-2) ran off five straight, tying the game at 53 on a follow layup by Shawn Winfree.
But the Poets regrouped and took the lead for good at 59-57 on two free throws by Booth with 3 minutes, 17 seconds left. A
follow layup by Alexander and two free throws by Marvin Gross extended the Poets' lead to 63-57. A free throw by Johnny Rhodes for Washington Dunbar made it 63-58, but The Crimson Tide never got any closer.
Alexander hit six straight free throws and Lloyd got a breakaway dunk in an 8-3 run that sent the Poets ahead, 71-61, with 54 seconds left.
"We called a timeout and got ourselves together," said Booth. "We were looking ahead to St. Anthony's, and coach told us to take one game at a time. We had to get back into the game and box out and play defense. They were getting too many open shots."