Goucher's fans were chanting, "We want Salisbury" with three minutes left in the Capital Athletic Conference men's basketball semifinal last night, but they could have begun a lot earlier if they had wished.
Led by 22 points in 23 minutes from sophomore guard Bakari Ward (Arundel), the top-seeded Gophers ripped fourth-seeded York College, 84-56, to gain a shot at avenging their lone conference loss of the season.
Goucher will play host to second-seeded Salisbury State at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the tournament final. The Sea Gulls, the reigning CAC champions, reached the final by beating third-seeded Mary Washington, 65-55, last night.
Goucher (21-5 overall, 13-1 regular season in the CAC), lost to the Sea Gulls, 58-55, on Feb. 12, and has added incentive against them since they stopped the Gophers' two-year conference reign last season.
"We're going to pay them back," Ward said. "We didn't play well against them the first time, but we'll focus on them [today]."
Goucher rushed to a 17-2 lead in the first four minutes, and shot 66 percent (23-for-35) in the first half. The Gophers harassed York (13-13) with a pressure defense kept fresh with numerous substitutions.
Spartans leading scorer Johnny Baer, averaging 17.7 points, was rendered ineffective under the defense of Ward (seven steals) and Vince Williams (Calvert Hall) and finished with two points. Ward and Williams also took turns frustrating freshman point guard Jason Saurbaugh.
"We knew their plays," Ward said. "They run all their shots off double screens. We just got a hand in their face because they can't shoot unless they're wide-open."
Goucher led 52-27 at halftime.
Goucher finished the game with 17 steals and out-rebounded the Spartans, 42-29.
Goucher coach Leonard Trevino said he welcomed a lopsided game before the final, which grants the winner an automatic berth into the Division III playoffs.
"At this point I'll take it," he said. "We rested some people, we got to use a lot of bench. We think we're deep, and we go about eight deep, so it was good to get them some minutes."
Goucher took its biggest lead at 75-42 with 8: 52 left in the game.
Pub Date: 2/28/97