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Bevo was household name

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Bevo had multi-100 point games
By Mike Puma
Special to

Signature Game
Jan. 9, 1953 - With 10 minutes left against Ashland (Ky.) Junior College, Bevo Francis had 61 points. But the Rio Grande freshman was hardly finished.

Pouring in another 55 points - all of his team's points in the last quarter (the college game was played in four 10-minutes periods at the time) - he wound up with 116, the most ever scored in a college contest. In the last five minutes, coach Newt Oliver instructed his player to foul so they could get the ball back and feed Francis.

Francis finished with 47 field goals and 22 free throws in the 150-85 victory. No other Rio Grande player scored more than 12 points.

Francis broke the college record of 87, set by, ironically, another Rio Grande player, Jack Duncan, in the 1940-41 season.

Two months later, though, the NCAA will scratch Francis' 116-point performance from the record book because Ashland was a two-year school. The organization rules only games against four-year schools will be recognized. Duncan's mark will be erased for the same reason.

Odds 'n' Ends

  • As a junior at Wellsville High School, Bevo scored an Ohio record 57 points in a game.

  • Rio Grande was founded by Baptists, who remained affiliated with the college until early 1952. After losing that financial backing, the Rio Grande board voted on whether to close the school. The college remained open and that fall Francis arrived on campus.

  • As a married man, Francis was given a scholarship consisting of tuition, books, $75 a month for groceries, $35 a month for a furnished apartment and a campus job, which paid 50 cents an hour.

  • Oliver, Francis' coach at Wellsville and Rio Grande, led the nation in scoring with 725 points when he played at Rio Grande during the 1947-48 season.

  • Some opponents froze the ball - there was no shot clock in those days - to keep Francis from getting chances. One team, Cedarville, refused to shoot from the opening tip. With a sellout crowd of 7,451 angry and demanding its money back, the Cedarville athletic director intervened and convinced the team to play at full tempo.

  • Oliver sought an NIT bid in 1953 after the team went 39-0, but Rio Grande didn't get an invite.

  • The night Francis scored his 113 points against Hillsdale, he also set college records for most field goals (38) and most free throws (37).

  • In his 39 games against four-year colleges, Francis scored at least 50 points an NCAA Division II record 14 times.

  • Including games against non-four-year schools, Bevo scored at least 50 points 28 times.

  • Francis holds three of the top five scoring games in NCAA history. Besides the 113 points, he notched 84 against Alliance and 82 against Bluffton in the 1953-54 season.

  • His 71 field-goal attempts against Alliance on Jan. 16, 1954 are NAIA and NCAA Division II records.

  • On Feb. 13, 1954, 11 days after Francis scored 113 points, Furman's Frank Selvy notched 100 against Newberry, and no major college player has reached triple digits since.

  • Late in the season, Francis severely sprained an ankle against Ashland. Hobbled, he averaged only 31 points during the last five games and Rio Grande lost three times, including in the second round of the NAIA tournament. The Redmen finished 21-7.

  • In his 67 college games - against all competition - Francis scored 3,273 points, an average of 48.9.

  • Bevo outscored the entire opposing team nine times in his career.

  • He never fouled out of a game. Oliver instructed him to lay back after three fouls.

  • Francis appeared on the Ed Sullivan and "Today" shows.

  • Rio Grande played in front of 164,000 fans in 1953-54.

  • Oliver got guarantees as high as $4,000 for road games, helping Rio Grande meet its faculty payroll.

  • One of the teams Rio Grande scrimmaged was the Lockbourne Air Force Base team coached by George Steinbrenner, who later bought the New York Yankees.

  • Oliver and Francis signed a package deal with the Boston Whirlwinds, the touring team that played the Globetrotters.

  • After leaving the Whirlwinds in 1956, Francis barnstormed briefly with the Ohio Stars and played for the Hazeltown Hawks of the Eastern League.

  • In the 1961-62 season, Francis appeared in two games with the Cleveland Pipers of the American Basketball League before leaving the team.

  • Bevo was nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979-80 but did not get elected by the Honors Committee.

  • Bevo and his wife, Jean, had two children, a son, Frank, and a daughter, Marge.

  • Francis played in an era before the three-point line and isn't a fan of the shot. "I think that kind of ruined the game," he said. "Everyone wants to be a three-point shooter."

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