- Wednesday, March 22 1944 -
NIT (at New York, NY)
Kentucky - 45 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp)
St. Johns - 48 (Head Coach: Joe Lapchick)
Halftime Score: Kentucky 24, St. Johns 24
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|Utah 46 - 38|||||Oklahoma A&M 45 - 29|
Game Writeup - by Louis Effrat, New York Times
St. John's Upsets Kentucky to Advance to NIT Finals
18,353 SEE REDMEN RALLY TO WIN, 48-45
St. John's Five Erases 8-Point Kentucky Lead in National Invitation Semi-Final
Magnificent is the word that best describes the rally of St. John's University's basketball team, which last night at Madison Square Garden upset Kentucky in their semi-final struggle in the seventh annual national invitation tournament. Although nearly everyone gave up on the Brooklyn Redmen after they twice had fallen eight points behind in the second period, Joe Lapchick's neatly drilled athletes refused to quit and were rewarded with a 48-45 victory.
In Sunday night's final, St. John's will come to grips with De Paul of Chicago, which also was forced to come from behind to conquer Oklahoma A. and M., 41-38, in the second game of the doubleheader. The Aggies, playing the last minute and 39 seconds with only four men, faded after an early 15-4 advantage.
St. John's overcame a streak of wildness, some inexcusably weak foul shooting and a hard-driving aggregation of Wildcats who had suffered only one setback all season. That they did emerge on top was a credit to the Redmen, upon whom Kentucky had inflicted a 44-38 defeat earlier in the campaign.
Redmen Trail at 37-29
But the Garden, home of fallen favorites many times, was destined to house still another upset. With Bill Kotsores inspiring his mates to their most notable victory and all of them pitching in at the most opportune moments, St. John's rallied after trailing by 32-24 and 37-29.
When Kotsores batted in the rebound that tied the issue at 45 -- all -- the eighth deadlock of this thriller -- two minutes from the end, the largest crowd of the season went wild. The attendance officially was announced as 18,353.
The big break came when Jack Tingle fouled Wade Duym, the pair sprawling over the hardwood. Exactly 1 minute and 47 seconds remained when Duym missed the first of his two free throws, but the next swished through the net and St. John's was on top.
Then followed what everyone expected. Once the Redmen regained the ball, they froze it.
With their little captain, Hy Gotkin, the steadying influence, St. John's held tightly to the leather until, with 20 seconds left, Don Wehr sneaked under the basket. It was an easy matter for Sonny Wertis to feed a sharp pass to Wehr, whose goal clinched the issue.
A half-minute earlier an incident occurred that irked the Kentuckians no little. Desperately in need of a basket, the Wildcats took a futile shot, but they appeared in position to capture the rebound. Referee Pat Kennedy, trying to get out of the way, impeded a Kentucky man chasing the ball, which bounded out of bounds into St. John's possession.
Altercation Ends Quickly
After the buzzer, two Kentucky players approached Kennedy and heaped insults upon the official. However, cooler heads soon intervened.
Kotsores' 15 points enabled him to share scoring honors with Wilbur Schu of Kentucky. Kotsores missed five of six fouls, otherwise he would have been high man all by himself.
Throughout the opening half fortunes of both teams rose and fell but they were tied at 24-all at the intermission. Upon resumption, Kentucky counted eight straight points and appeared to have the situation under control until Lapchick's lads, struggling courageously uphill, fought their way back into contention.
Tom Moseley grabs the ball for Kentucky