Georgetown took control so quickly against Fordham last night that the 10th-ranked Hoyas almost covered the 21 1/2-point spread before the visitors from New York made a basket.
Using a full-court zone press and a running game against the bigger, slower Rams, Georgetown zoomed to a 20-2 lead in 7 minutes 5 seconds.
"I'm just thankful that we weren't shut out," said Fordham's first year coach, Tom Penders. "As I said to my assistant, "This could be a shutout here. Is there any way to get a filed goal?' Meaning a three-point kick from midcourt."
The final margin was only 10 points, 75-65, after Georgetown's regulars departed with a 20-point lead and 2:25 to play before the standing-room-only crowd of 4,000 at McDonough Arena.
Georgetown, 13-2 going into Saturday's regionally televised game at Pennsylvania, played similarly against Manhattan Saturday, causing Hoya Coach John Thompson to call his bench's play "a dern circus." Last night, Thompson said, it was "only a carnival."
Despite the close margin, Penders was duly impressed.
"They're an awesome team. They deserve their ranking," he said after his team's 10th loss in 15 games. "But they need more offense out of their centers."
Last night, Georgetown's four other starters scored 70 of the 75 points, quickly turning Fordham's ball-handling mistakes and the fast tempo to their advantage. The scoring was balanced: Eric Floyd 19, John Duren 18, Craig Shelton 17 and Steve Martin 16.
"The thing that impresses me more about them than their other teams is that they really move the ball," Penders said. "It doesn't stop after one or two passes. They moved it a couple of times eight or nine passes, moved it side to side, moved it in, got the open shot.
"We tried three or four different zones and matchups and no matter what we did, they seemed to get the ball where they wanted it."
The assist distribution was similar to the points: Duren 7, Martin 6, Floyd 5.
At one point in the first half, the Hoyas had made 20 of 29 shots, and seven of their only nine outside 15 feet.
It was obvious that the Hoyas have learned their lesson since St. Joseph's controlled that contest with a slow tempo and won, 37-36, four games ago. Since, the Hoyas have blitzed the opposition early with their speed.
"We have to do that," said Martin, the team captain. "It's important for us to take the game in our hands. We can't be too conservative or cautious. We want to play hard no matter whom we're playing."
Penders said he was looking for a patient game from his team.
"We needed it in the 40s or 50s to have a chance to win," he said. "But we can't hold it (like St. Joe's did). We'd have a hard time doing it against a wheelchair team. We wanted to be patient and look for the good shot."
That was impossible under the circumstances.
Off the opening tap, Martin hit a 12-footer. Shelton they tipped away a Fordham pass and the ensuing fast break ended in a 17-foot jumper by Duren. Then Dud Tongal, Fordham's 7-foot freshman center from Sudan, while being intimitated by 6-11 JTom (Mount) Scates, missed a jumper, badly.
The Hoyas came down, set up their offense and Duren got an open 18-footer. Swish. The Hoyas lined up in their 3-1-1 zone press. With Shelton at the pressure point, he stole the ball from Tyrone Holloway, pivoted and made a layup. It was 8-0.
Penders had seen enough. After his team had only three possessions, he called time out. Eighteen minutes remained in the first half. The Rams made two free throws before John Kavanagh hit an 18-foot jumper for the Rams' first field goal, with 12:26 left in the half.
The Fordham coach eventually shifted to a smaller lineup to combat Georgetown's quickness. But the Rams were forced to shoot constantly from the perimeter and Penders said he was cognizant of the manner in which Scates has improved as the middleman of Georgetown's 2-3 zone defense.
"I think just the sight of Scates scared Tongal," Penders said. "Their defense is stronger. When I'd seen them in the past, they played passive zones. Tonight, they came out afterus."