In a matchup that surpassed advance billing, Georgetown dominated front-court play and nipped hot-shooting Detroit, 83-82, last night at McDonough Gym. Hoya Craig Shelton's layup with 28 seconds to play ended at 12 the longest winning streak among major colleges.
That Detroit shot 59 percent from the floor and lost to a team whose outside shooters slumped again only helped magnify how dominant was Georgetown's big front line of Shelton, Ed Hopkins and Steve Martin.
The win brought Georgetown's record to 17.4 and gave Coach John Thompson his 100th career victory. It was a game special enough for a centennial celebration, with 30 lead changes and nine ties. Each team scored better than one point per possession.
"It was the best game I've worked this season," said referee Joe Sylvester.
For the second time in three weeks, Hopkins blocked and controlled a late shot, this one by Detroit guard Wilbert McCormick, to secure the victory. It came after Shelton stole a pass and converted his own miss at the other end to give Georgetown the 83-82 advantage.
When Martin passed the ball inbounds to John Duren and the sophomore point guard dribbled out the final eight seconds, Thompson raised a fist to the sellout crowd of 4,500, then raised both arms in triumph.
Martin, who scored only two points in the first half, was forgotten by Detroit's defense and burned the Titans for 20 in the second. Shelton followed with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Hopkins contributed 17 points and 15 rebounds.
That was enough to offset combined nine-for-31 shooting by Georgetown guards Derrick Jackson and Duren and the hot outside hands of Titans John Long (25 points) and Terry Duerod (21).
Titan Coach Dave Gaines was anything but a gracious loser. He blasted McCormick for taking the final shot and claimed, "We were homered" by the officials.
He was mainly referring to the late stages of the first half when Georgetown could not buy an outside shot. Its three regular long shooters were seven-for-26 and only the offensive rebounding of Hopkins and Shelton kept the Hoyas in the game.
During this stretch each of the three Detroit front-court players picked up his third foul. Top rebounder Terry Tyler missed the last six minutes of the half. However, Detroit could have won the game, with better execution in the final minutes.
Detroit possessed a three-point lead, 82-79, after Jackson missed a 22-footer with 2 1/2 minutes to play.But Duerod missed the front end of Detroit's first bonus situation of the half. Gaines later called this miss the Titans' biggest factor in dropping their record to 18-2.
Georgetown converted the missed free throw into two points. Shelton brought the rebound out to a high post and fed the unguarded Martin for a layup and 82-81 deficit with 1:53 left.
After the game, Thompson sought out Martin, who had done little for the past 3 1/2 games on offense. He went on vacation on us. When he comes off vacation, we're all right."
At the other end, Detroit went to four corners in an attempt to lull the Hoyas to sleep and get a layup. Shelton would not let that happen. With about a minute to play. McCormick drove past Riley down the lane, with Long guarded by Shelton on his left wing.
Shelton's fundamental soundness and his quickness paid off. He anticipated the pass, stepped in front of Long and picked it off. He scored with 28 seconds remaining and later Thompson would say, "The horse carried us over the hill."
But it was left for Hopkins to make the final play, as he did against Seton Hall. Twenty-one seconds remained. Gaines told his players to set up a shot for Tyler inside with four seconds left.
Instead, McCormick let fly from 12 feet on the right baseline.
"He's the last guy I wanted to take the shot," said Gaines. "And he takes it with eight seconds left over a 6-foot-9 guy."