Forward Craig Shelton, a forgotten player this season, took over domination of a slow-paced basketball game when 14th ranked Georgetown needed it tonight and led the undefeated Hoyas into the final of the Wolf Pack Invitational tournament.
Shelton, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, keyed two Georgetown surges that led the Hoyas past Fresno State, 49-42, at Centennial Coliseum. Georgetown's seventh triumph tied their best state ever, accomplished previously by its 1942-43 NCAA runners-up.
Host Nevada-Reno, a fast-moving physical club unranked in the wire service polls but 18th in the Sporting News ratings, worked over Eastern Kentucky, 116-84, in the second game despite 29 points by James Tillman of Washington, D.C.
Shelton scored 20 points and collected nine rebounds, a display more impressive than the numbers because this game had only 48 possessions for each team.
Forward Steve Martin and freshman guard whiz Eric Floyd have been getting the attention in Georgetown's unexpected fast start. Shelton and point guard John Duren, the two best Hoya players, are performing steadily but, according to Thompson, being taken for granted.
"You know Craig," said Thompson afterward. "Everbody's talking about everybody but Craig and they're leaving him alone. I'm tickled. I'm enjoying the heck out of it."
Fresno State surely didn't, because the Bulldogs were trhreatening to even their record at 4-4 when Shelton took charge midway in the second half.
Georgetown had the opportunity to fold. The players were having stamina problems in this nearly milehigh atmosphere where the temperature dropped to 6 degrees below zero early this morning. They also appeardd a little dejected that Fresno had caught up after Georgetown jumped to a 15-6 lead in the first 6 minutes.
With a slew of substitutes and control of the tempo, Coach Boyd Granths young team appeared to be in good position for the upset. then, two positive events happened for the Hoyas.
Floyd, who pulled a back muscle in the first half, blocked an Art Williams sot and converted it into a layup on a baswline drive at the other end.
On Fresno's next possession, the Bulldogs worked the ball inside for a 10-foot baseline jumper by Todd Ward. Georgetown center Om Scates swatted away the shot-a play Grant later contended was "You bet, no question," goaltending-and Martin converted a short jump shot form the foul line and a 32.28 Georgetown lead.
"That was a great psychological thing for us," said Thompson. "Ti gave us the momentum back."
Shelton made sure the Hoyas never lost it.
The teams traded a few baskets and it was 34-32 when Shelton took over with 12:55 to play. He took a nifty pass from Martin and dunked the ball: 36-32, Georgetown. After Todd Ward scored for Fresno, Shelton used his quickness to tap in an Ed Spriggs miss: 38-34, Georgetown.
Fresno's youth showed when Dan Pagliotti tossed up a 20-footer. At the other end, Floyd drove to the hoop for a layup and 40-34 lead. Two possessions later Martin hit a 12-foot jumper for 42-34 and Todd countered with a layup.