Georgetown University's basketball team lost the national championship game in Lexington, Ky., last night, leaving the District of Columbia police in unchallenged possession of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW.
The game-ending buzzer not only signaled the Hoyas' defeat, but it also subdued the spirits of hundreds of fans, foreclosing on the possibility that Georgetown streets would once again be plunged into the pandemonium that greeted last year's victory.
Early this morning, a disappointed vendor was standing on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and N Street, trying to hawk his Georgetown T-shirts at distress-sale prices and speaking wistfully of what might have been.
Between shouts of "half price, half price," at motorists in passing cars -- who generally kept going -- Wayne Carter speculated regretfully that if the favored Hoyas had done the expected, he might have sold his full stock of 500 shirts at $10 each.
As it was, the Hoyas came out on the short end of a 66-64 score, and he was still holding 150 unsold shirts.
Anticipating another screaming, shouting, traffic-blocking celebration of the kind that greeted last year's Georgetown victory and the Redskins victory in the Super Bowl the year before, police had gathered in force about Wisconsin Avenue and M Street.
More than 100 officers were at the ready. Scores of cruisers were parked close by to confront the hordes of raucous revelers expected to surge and spill at game's end from the Georgetown University campus and from the bars and taverns along M Street and Wisconsin Avenue.
But in a game that remained close to the end, Villanova beat Georgetown, closing out the Hoyas' 17-game winning streak and leaving hundreds of students with chewed fingernails and little appetite for uproar.
By early this morning, the number of arrests associated with the game and with reaction to it, stood at one. Second District police Capt. Rod Murray said a man he described as a "distraught Hoya" was taken into custody outside a restaurant on a disorderly conduct charge.
On the campus, in the bars and on the surrounding streets, most of the conduct observed by reporters was of the orderly variety.
Earlier in the evening, about 3,000 students had watched the game on a giant TV screen in McDonough Memorial Arena on campus. Some of them had daubed their faces with greasepaint in Georgetown colors. They had yelled and shouted and waved banners and made the wooden bleachers tremble with the pounding of their feet.
"There's no doubt this is the place to be," said second-year medical student Phil Holzknecht. "A 25-foot screen and a bunch of screaming maniacs."
As the game went on, and Villanova proved a formidable foe, worry seeped into the arena.
"I never thought it would be this close," said another med student, Mike Finger.
The exhilaration of early evening did not survive the end of the game.
Swallowing disappointment, some students managed to keep their spirits high enough to announce their intention to march off in search of celebration, notwithstanding the score.
"I feel really bummed by the loss , but I think we did a really good job and we're going to party anyway," said freshman Jennifer Miller.
"We're a little bit down but we're really proud of Coach John Thompson and all the players," said student Tom Curis, as he and three others headed for M Street after the game had ended.
But what celebration there was seemed clearly suppressed by the reality that the Georgetown team had been dethroned as national champion.
"It's very sad, very depressing, very disappointing," Kathleen Schuler, 21, a senior from New Jersey, told a reporter as she strolled dejected along the streets of Georgetown.
"It's too bad," agreed her companion, Richard Cirillo, 27, a medical student, who, like Schuler, was wearing a Georgetown sweatshirt.
At Champions, a Wisconsin Avenue bar and gathering place for sports fans, the mood was confident and upbeat early in the evening.
Chatter continued into the second half, but the last few minutes of the game were played in utter and intent silence.
When the game ended, shortly after 11 p.m., conversation resumed, but it was of other times and other concerns, and nobody was heard to suggest going outside and challenging the sharp northwest wind.