- Wednesday, March 20 1946 -
NIT Championship (at New York, NY)
Kentucky - 46 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp)
|J. Ed Parker||1||1||3||0||3|
Rhode Island - 45 (Head Coach: Frank Keaney)
Halftime Score: Rhode Island 27, Kentucky 26
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|West Virginia 59 - 51|||||Indiana Central 78 - 36|
Game Writeup - by Louis Effrat, New York Times
Wildcats Nip Rams of Rhode Island, 46-45
NEW YORK, March 20, 1946 -- To the Wildcats of Kentucky went top honors in the ninth annual National Invitation College Basketball Tournament, but the hearts of the 18,475 fans, thrilled by the gallantry of courageous underdogs who refused to concede an inch, belonged to the Rams of Rhode Island State.
Battling to the end, Rhode Island finally succumbed, 46-45, to the experienced, taller Southerners in a nerve-tingling finale that left the experts in a state of bewilderment last night at Madison Square Garden.
If the experts were in such a condition, one is privileged to guess how Kentucky's players felt, struggling to convince the Rams they just were not supposed to make it that close. For here was a heavy favorite, rated superior by 11 1/2 points, barely pulling the title out of the fire.
Kentucky was behind, 27-26, at the half, and two minutes before the finish, the Wildcats still found themselves a point in the red, 45-44.
This was not according to script. Rhode Island, under the tutelage of Frank Keaney, was not supposed to be equipped with the defense necessary to stop so smooth an aggregation as Kentucky. The helter-skelter, hipper-dipper New England attack, with its electrifying one-handers, had been subjected to ridicule and certainly did not compare with Kentucky's orthodox offense, revolving around the pivot man in the key hole.
In fact, everything pointed to a comfortable victory for Kentucky. However, it was the Wildcat coach, Adolph Rupp, who summed it all up in a nutshell a few minutes after he accepted the N.I.T.'s Edward A. Kelleher Trophy from Mrs. Kelleher.
"Who," Rupp asked, "said Rhode Island State had no defense?"
"Who", he continued, "said Rhode Island State had no offense?"
The Rams had both. They had, also, Ernie Calverley, who, though limited to a mere 8 points by freshman Ralph Beard, Kentucky's standout offensively and defensively, clinched the most valuable player award in the tournament with another sparkling all-around exhibition. Calverley, feeding his teammates, intercepting passes and setting up numerous scoring plays, unquestionably merited the honor.
Still fortune frowned on the slim, 145-pound New Englander, who had amazed the world with a 55-foot shot in the first round. Perhaps it was a miscarriage of justice that he was the cause of Kentucky's winning point, which came exactly 40 seconds before the final buzzer and sent Calverley out on personal fouls.
Perhaps it was, but none in the crowd -- which helped set a tournament attendance record of 73,894 for four nights of competition -- put the blame on the youngster. It was a heart-breaking windup for so outstanding an individual.
The clocked showed forty seconds to play when Calverley fouled Beard. As Calverley walked to the bench, Beard calmly caged the free throw that snapped the twelfth tie of the game. Going back a bit farther, it was a foul by Calverley that sent Kenton Campbell to the 15-foot line for a successful penalty toss that enabled Kentucky to tie it at 45-all.
Even after Beard's 1-pointer, the Rams had a chance in the form of a free throw by Dick Hole. Twenty-three seconds remained when Hole flubbed the shot. Between then and the finish, Rhode Island players got their hands on the ball a half a dozen different times, but never got off a shot clearly.
If sloppy at times, this was a feverishly waged contest, in which the lead changed hands eleven times. The Rams, never stopping their running tactics, fell seven points behind, 23-16, but a tremendous surge gave them a 27-26 edge at the intermission.
Thereafter neither side boasted a lead of more than 3 points. There was enough good, spectacular basketball to offset the faulty plays. Kentucky tried to play its own game, but too often was lured into wildness.
For Kentucky, Beard, with his excellent job of defending against Calverley and the 13 points he tallied, was the big man. Besides Calverley, playing in his last college game, Jack Allen, a substitute Ram, turned in a surprisingly good effort.
Wallace Jones defends against Rhode Island All-American Ernie Calverley
Jack Tingle scores as Rhode Island's Ernie Calverley (#3) along with UK teammates Wilbur Schu (#36) and Wallace Jones (#41) look on
Ernie Calverley's shot attempt is blocked by Kentucky Jack Parkinson.