“The greatest game GW ever played”

As Homecoming approaches, we’re excited to share the following story from Frederick Hink, CCAS AA ’63, ESIA BA ‘64, LAW JD ’68. Hink attended the legendary 1995 GW vs. UMass men’s basketball game – read on to find out what happened that night!

On a Friday night in February 1995, my brother-in-law, Richard (Dick) Nichols, called to invite me to a game at the GW Smith Center. Dick and I both attended GW as undergraduates in the early 60’s.

The game was GW vs. University of Massachusetts (UMass). UMass, an Atlantic 10 rival, was 18 and 0 and ranked number one in the country; GW had some good players and was expected to hold its own. Little did we know what was in store.

When we were students, GW had a very competitive basketball team.  Their main rivals were Georgetown and West Virginia (WVU). But GW did not have a basketball facility of its own and played most its home games elsewhere. For big games, the team played in the old Uline Arena (Washington Coliseum) at 3rd and M Streets SE.

It was at the Uline in 1960 that my wife, Janice Hink, GWSB BBA ’67, and I saw what we always considered to be GW’s greatest game (GW vs. WVU)—until 1995.

After we graduated, GW built the Smith Center. In 1990, the university hired Mike Jarvis to coach the basketball team.

Jarvis, Boston University’s former coach, was a great recruiter and assembled a team that made three NCCA tournament appearances, including the round of 16 in 1993. It was this core team that we saw at the UMass game.

We arrived at the Smith Center to find that we had excellent seats in the Endzone section–but we were surprised that we’d had to go through metal detectors on our way in.

The student section to our left was already packed as the GW pep warmed up the crowd: “Hail to the Buff! Hail to the Blue! Hail to the Buff and Blue!”

GW’s Martha and George mascots were on hand as well – it was great fun to be back on campus again.

About five minutes into the game, we got an explanation for the metal detectors. President Bill Clinton, his daughter, Chelsea, and their Secret Service entourage entered the door on our right and sat down two or three rows below us.

An immediate stir went through the arena.

For a few minutes, the crowd alternated between watching the game and watching the President, but gradually everyone focused on the game.

UMass was faster than GW, but GW was better on the boards. At the end of the first half, the game was close and both teams were in position to win.

Toward the end of the second half, there was a momentum shift and everyone felt it. You could just tell that the players on both sides knew that GW had the edge. And they were right.

GW won the game 78-75, clinching the win with an icy free throw shot in the last five seconds.

When the final buzzer sounded, students ran onto the court and turned toward the President while chanting: “We’re number one!  We’re number one!”

President Clinton stood up and applauded; it was clear that he was enjoying the moment as much as we were. It was obvious that both he and Chelsea had a great time at the game.

Our ride home after the game was full of chatter—it was wonderful to see our alma mater bring home a winner.

And not only had we witnessed a basketball upset and a star team, but we had the President there to give a signature ending on the greatest game GW ever played.

–Frederick Hink

Many thanks to Mr. Hink for sharing this story! You can cheer on the Colonials at Homecoming on Feb. 9 and 10! Read about the festivities or buy tickets now!

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One Comment;

  1. Don Ardell said:

    I was a starting forward on the teams that Fred Hink and Dick Nichols watched in the early 60s at Ft Myers and Uline Arena. While we were never treated to a visit at our games from JFK, we had some exciting times, as in 61 when we upset three teams with much better season records at the Southern Conference tournament in Richmond to earn a spot in that year’s NCAA festivities. I suppose many GW games over the years could be plausibly argued as “the greatest game GW ever played.” The UMass contest Fred describes certainly would be a strong candidate, even if President Clinton and his entourage had not showed up. My own entry would be a 1961 or possibly 62 game I watched GW play, a JV battle before we played Georgetown one evening (at Georgetown). In that contest, half the players on both teams fouled out, largely because the game went into one overtime after another. I don’t recall the final number of overtimes – I’m guessing six but it may have been more. Each overtime was decided, that it, sent into yet another overtime, by improbable buzzer-beater shots.

    I hate to admit it – and I hope this fact will not diminish my case for how memorable that JV contest was, but I can’t remember which team ultimately prevailed! Nor can I recall who won our own varsity game that followed.

    This is no doubt due to one of two factors: I’m getting old or I have truly embraced the old adage that it’s not so much who won or lost that matters but rather how the game was played.

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