Dunbar's tourney skid ends at 5 with 70-58 win CHARM CITY CLASSIC

January 29, 1995|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

It was about "The Program."

The Dunbar Poets have established a standard for basketball excellence over the past 20 years, winning three national championships and producing a number of collegiate and professional players.

But yesterday they found themselves going against Lincoln of Brooklyn, N.Y., in the consolation game of the Southeast bracket at the First National Bank Charm City Classic.

In its last five games at the Charm City Classic, Dunbar had gone winless, including a 68-66 loss to St. Anthony's of Jersey City, N.J., on Friday night. Its aura as a national power was beginning to fade.

But the No. 2 Poets (14-1) quieted those who were starting to predict their demise, defeating Lincoln, ranked No. 10 nationally by USA Today, 70-58, before a crowd of 2,500 at Loyola College's Reitz Arena.

Junior forward Tommy Polley led a balanced Poet attack with 17 points and five blocked shots. Billy Wells added 16 and Marvis Thornton scored 15. Robert Foster had 14 points for Dunbar.

"We felt a little pressure, but we didn't want to admit it," said Polley, who added seven rebounds. "We haven't won in three years. It's a relief."

The Poets (14-1), who had their 26-game winning streak broken on Friday, went on a 10-0 run to break a 56-56 tie and hand Lincoln (15-3) its second straight defeat.

After Stephon Marbury hit a three-pointer from 25 feet to tie the game, Robert Foster came back with a layup to give the Poets the lead.

Polley rebounded a miss by Marbury, which led to a layup by Shannon Boone. The Poets converted two Lincoln turnovers into baskets by Wells and Boone, before a jumper by Wells made it 66-56 with 1:19 remaining in the game.

"A lot of people wanted to see us play Lake Clifton," said Wells of the missed opportunity of a Poets-Lake Clifton game for the area's No. 1 ranking. "We needed to win this game."

Until yesterday, the last Dunbar victory came in the first Charm City Classic in January 1992, when it defeated St. Anthony's. The team, which included Keith Booth, Donta Bright, Diego Jones and Michael Lloyd, went 29-0 that season and won its third national title.

Since, Dunbar has gone 0-for the Charm City. Outside of a 61-44 loss to Simon Gratz of Philadelphia in 1993, the Poets' other four defeats have been by a total of 12 points, including two at the buzzer last season.

There was reason to think that the Poets would lose a sixth. In the loss to St. Anthony's on Friday, Dunbar had rallied from a 15-point, first-half deficit to take the lead before faltering.

And the Poets had to face Lincoln and Marbury, the country's No. 1 guard who scored 43 against them in New York last season.

Marbury, who has signed with Georgia Tech, scored only 12 points yesterday and was three of 16 from the field as the Poets didn't allow him to get into a consistent flow.

"We decided not to let him beat us," said Dunbar coach Paul Smith. "We did the little things like rebounding and getting the ball to the hot man."

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