Georgetown's victory at Penn Saturday set up the highly ranked Hoyas for an inevitable letdown last night against St. Francis, Pa.
But center Tommy Scates, with the crowd giving him a standing ovation and chanting "Tommy, Tommy" in recognition of his game against the Quakers, dominated inside early as the Hoyas opened a 10-point lead and draggd a 74-62 victory at McDonough Arena.
The victory equaled Georgetown's best start ever, 15-2, achieved last season. But Hoya Coach John Thompson was happy just to get the game over.
"It was almost like you're walking through the desert and see the well in front of you," he said. "But you can't pick up your feet to get there."
Scates, who later got into foul trouble and played only 20 minutes, amde a dynamic over-the-shoulder, one-handed reverse slam dunk for Georgetown's first basket. On the Red Flash's next possession he blocked two shots, establishing an intimidation factor that losing Coach Dave Magarity cited later as a key to the game.
For the first time, as an encore to his 12-point offensive game against Penn, Scates seemed to want the bastetbally last night. He picked up a loose ball and took it to the glass for another basket early in the game, staking the Hoyas to a 9-3 lead.
He finished the game with six points, making all three of his shots, blocked four shots and took up his usual space under the Hoya basket.
"I thought it was necessary," said Scates about why he is now looking for the ball offensively. "I have to take some of the burden off him," he added, pointing to forward Craig Shelton.
Thompson has claimed for two seasons that Scates shows offensive moved in Georgetown's closed practices that he had never shown in games.
"He only needs one shot, and that's a dunk," Thompson has said in the past.
Last night, he noted, "What Tommy did tonight is very important from an individual standpoint. For us to do well at the end of the season, he has to get involved. That's the only good thing I can see about this game."
The Hoyas played their zone defense with their hands down much vof the time, causing Thompson to fuss continually from the bench.
"We were just happy to get it over with and get off the floor," said Scates. "It wasn't a mental game as much as a physical game. It was kind of a letdown. We don't play our defense up to par."
Nevertheless, Magarity was impressed by the Hoyas,who are ranked 11th by the AP and 12th by UPI. St. Francis is now 9-6, with earlier losses to top-ranked Notre Dame (by 53 points) and top 10 Louisians State (by 31 points).
"They're a top 10 team," Magarity said afterward. "We've played Notre Dame and LSU. Georgetown doesn't have the overall depth, but they have the smartest (starting) five. I bet you they didn't take more than three bad shots all night."
The Hoyas again had their usual balanced scoring last night: 18 by John Duren, 16 by Shelton and 14 each by Steve Martin and Eric Floyd.
Magarity recalled two stretches of the second half. On the first, his team got within six points, at 47-42, only to miss successive layups. On the second, the Red Flash's half-court trap produced turnovers, cutting the Georgetown lead to eight, 51-53, with 3:14 to go.
But, the Hoyas then broke that trap twice, twice getting slam dunks by Shelton, the second on Martin's 10th assist of the game, a career high.
"Hey, the intimidation's there," said Magarity, recalling the layups missed by 5-11 guard Bob Convey and 6-9 center Joe Schoen. "That's a factor. Our 5-11 guard goes up and is blocked by the rim, trying to avoid their players. How many layups did we miss this game? We missed some down the stretch we'd normally make.
"Scates is an intimidator and Shelton is a great player. He's the best power forward in the East. Only one player comes close to him, Dale Shack-leford from Syracuse. When Shelton gets the ball near the basket, it's over. He eighter gets the basket or gets fouled."