ANNVILLE, Pa. -- Goucher College made a grand entrance into the NCAA Division III tournament last night.
With their fans chanting "Over . . . rated, over . . . rated" at the Lebanon Valley side in the second half, the Gophers completed a 63.6 percent shooting exhibition and ousted the defending national champion, 102-91, at Lynch Memorial Gymnasium.
The upset victory sent Goucher (19-9) into the second round tomorrow at Wilkes, Pa. (23-3), with the starting time to be determined.
In addition to their bull's-eye shooting, the Gophers prospered because of their defensive work against Lebanon Valley senior Mike Rhoades, the most valuable player in the Final Four last year.
Rhoades finished with a team-high 17 points, but was never a serious factor after drilling a three-pointer for the first basket of the game.
The principal reason was Goucher's 29-year-old senior, Gerard Garlic, who was all over Rhoades and received plenty of help whenever he ran into a pick by the Flying Dutchmen.
Garlic blocked Rhoades' second shot attempt, inserting what Garlic called "a little thought in his mind. We wanted to force him to the baseline."
Meanwhile, the Gophers were hot from the field. Especially David Clark, who didn't miss on seven first-half shots, finished with 31 points and made 13 of 14 free throws, many during the stretch run.
Garlic added 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting, and center Predrag Durkovic added 19 points and six rebounds.
Goucher coach Leonard Trevino said the team came here the day before the game, practiced on the court and shot around yesterday. Familiarity was clearly a factor.
"We've been a good road team all year [11-5 record] and we played a tough nonconference schedule. I don't think our kids were intimidated by this."
The spectators came early and had the gym bulging with more than its listed capacity of 1,300 almost two hours before tip-off.
But Goucher took the crowd out of the game almost immediately with its uncanny accuracy and began to pull away from a tight battle with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
A 10-0 streak featuring five points by Garlic and a three-pointer by Clark pushed the Gophers ahead 44-35, and the Flying Dutchmen rallied only slightly by the break, 46-40.
Still, Lebanon Valley's first-year coach, Brad McAlester, was fairly content with his team's position.
"They shot 70 percent in the half and we were down six," he said. "I still thought we had a chance, but at the start of the second half, they scored a bunch right away and we were in trouble."
Chad Beeten opened the second half with a driving basket, Garlic hit from the side, then saved a ball going out of bounds to Durkovic, who laid it in to start a conventional three-point play that gave Goucher a 53-40 cushion.
Lebanon Valley (22-6) didn't fold, but every time it launched a mini-run, someone from Goucher answered with a big basket to halt the momentum.
Clark said "I felt it" during his perfect first-half shooting effort, "but I only took three shots the second half. I tried to assert myself early, then did some other things."
Rhoades, who came in averaging 21.1 points a game, said he was "definitely disrupted a lot" by the tight Gophers defense that included occasional relief for Garlic by Iterny Joseph.
"There is always a guy in my face, and it's hard to rate them, but he [Garlic] was tough, a good athlete," Rhoades said.