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Basketball legend Tom Gola dies at 81

Tom Gola is one of two players in NCAA history to top 2,000 in both points and rebounds.

Tom Gola is one of two players in NCAA history to top 2,000 in both points and rebounds.

PHILADELPHIA — Tom Gola, the Hall of Famer who led La Salle to the 1954 NCAA title and helped the Philadelphia Warriors win the 1956 NBA championship, died Sunday. He was 81.

Mr. Gola's wife, Caroline, said he died at St. Joseph's Manor in Meadowbrook. Mr. Gola was seriously injured in 2003 and was in a coma for several days after he fell and hit his head on a curb.

Mr. Gola also led La Salle to the 1952 NIT title and a runner-up finish in the 1955 NCAA Tournament. He still holds the NCAA career rebounds record with 2,201 and had 2,461 points. He and former George Washington player Joe Holup are the only players in NCAA history to top 2,000 in points and rebounds.

Mr. Gola averaged 11.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in 10 NBA seasons with Wilt Chamberlain's Philadelphia/San Francisco teams (concentrating on defense and rebounding with shots hard to come by) and New York.

"I am deeply saddened to hear the news about the passing of Tom Gola, a former teammate and one of the true gentlemen of the game," Warriors teammate Al Attles said in a statement. "He was a Hall of Fame player, but an even better person. His nickname was 'Saint' and for good reason."

Mr. Gola also coached at La Salle, where the arena is named after him.

"Tom was a Philadelphia icon whose name is synonymous with basketball," said Brother Michael J. McGinniss, La Salle's prsident. "His legacy will live on at La Salle forever and in Tom Gola Arena."

A Philadelphia folk hero whose fans yelled "Go, Gola, Go!" when he had the ball, Mr. Gola was one of two players to win an NIT, NCAA and NBA championship.


NO. 1 UCONN 81, USF 53: The visiting Bulls (10-9, 5-3 American) clogged up the middle against the Huskies (21-0, 8-0), holding them to 14 points in the paint. It seemed like a great strategy, until UConn began launching 3-pointers, hitting 10 of their first 11.

NO. 24 FSU 70, VA. TECH 54: Natasha Howard scored 15 of her 17 in the second half for the host Seminoles (15-5, 3-4 ACC), who dominated the Hokies (10-9, 0-6) to snap a four-game losing streak.

UF 87, AUBURN 69: Jaterra Bonds had 18 points and Kayla Lewis added 13 points and 13 rebounds for the host Gators (14-6, 4-3 SEC), who blew it open with a 27-7 second-half run.

NO. 3 DUKE 111, PITT 67: Tricia Liston scored 23 and became the Blue Devils' all-time leader with her 223rd 3-pointer, and Duke (20-1, 7-0 ACC) shot a season-best 60 percent from the floor.

NO. 5 LOUISVILLE 88, MEMPHIS 61: Shoni Schimmel scored 29 and hit a school-record nine 3-pointers for the host Cardinals (20-1, 8-0 American).

NO. 12 BAYLOR 69, NO. 8 OKLA. ST. 66, OT: Odyssey Sims converted a three-point play with 3.8 seconds left in overtime to lift the visiting Bears (16-3, 6-1 Big 12), who moved past the Cowgirls (17-2, 6-2) atop the conference.

NO. 9 KENTUCKY 68, ARKANSAS 58: Jennifer O'Neill scored 21, and the host Wildcats (16-4, 4-3 SEC) rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit.

NO. 10 S.C. 61, NO. 16 VANDY 57: Tiffany Mitchell hit a driving layup with 50.9 seconds left to lift the visiting Gamecocks (18-2, 6-1) to their best SEC start ever, snapping a four-game win streak by the Commodores (16-4, 5-2).

NO. 11 TENN. 76, NO. 17 TEXAS A&M 55: Meighan Simmons scored 26 as the visiting Vols (16-4, 5-2 SEC) raced past the Aggies (16-5, 6-1).

NO. 13 PENN ST. 83, MINN. 53: Maggie Lucas scored 25 for the host Nittany Lions (15-4, 6-1 Big Ten), who won their fourth straight game.

NO. 14 ARIZ. ST. 68, COLO. 66: Promise Amukamara forced two turnovers in the final seconds and Adrianne Thomas made the winning free throws for the visiting Sun Devils (17-3, 6-2 Pac-12).

NO. 15 LSU 66, OLE MISS 56: Theresa Plaisance had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the visiting Tigers (16-4, 5-2 SEC), who held the Rebels scoreless over the final 31/2 minutes.

NO. 19 CAL 69, UCLA 53: Reshanda Gray scored 32 on 12-of-18 shooting and added 15 rebounds for the host Golden Bears (14-5, 6-2 Pac-12).

N'WESTERN 63, NO. 21 NEBRASKA 59: Nia Coffey had 22 points and 10 rebounds as the host Wildcats avenged an earlier loss to the Cornhuskers (13-5, 3-3 Big Ten).

NO. 23 N.C. STATE 80, GA. TECH 73: Len'Nique Brown had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the visiting Wolfpack (18-3, 5-2 ACC).


NO. 1 ARIZ. 65, UTAH 56: Nick Johnson had 22 points and Aaron Gordon provided a huge boost despite a 3-of-13 shooting night, helping the host Wildcats (20-0, 7-0 Pac-12) to their school-record 20th straight win.

NO. 13 UMASS 90, FORDHAM 52: Chaz Williams had 18 points and eight assists for the host Minutemen (17-2, 4-1 Atlantic 10), who rebounded from Wednesday's loss at Richmond.

NO. 15 UC 80, TEMPLE 76: Sean Kilpatrick scored a season-high 29 for the visiting Bearcats (19-2, 8-0 American), who staved off an Owls comeback.

INDIANA 56, ILLINOIS 46: Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell scored 15 of his 17 in the second half for the host Hoosiers (13-7, 3-4), who ended a two-game losing streak. The Illini (13-8, 2-6) lost their sixth straight game.

SMART SORRY: Hours after a frustrating performance that he punctuated by kicking a chair, Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart apologized to his teammates via Twitter. Smart had a season-low four points and fouled out in an 81-75 win over West Virginia on Saturday.

Basketball legend Tom Gola dies at 81 01/26/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 27, 2014 12:05am]
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