Stonehill College came to McDonough Arena last night with little reputation and two little guards who took away the biggest strength of Georgetown University's 16th-ranked basketball team.
The Chieftains caught the Hoyas between two important games and almost caught them off guard. The Hoyas were up by only three points with less than six minutes to play before they pulled away to a 69-59 victory.
"Where it gets disappointing," said Stonehill Coach Tom Folliard, a Providence College teammate of Georgetown's John Thompson, "is when you get down to seven minutes to play and you're three or four points behind. Then you think you can win the game."
Stonehill reached that stage because guards Mike Reddish and Bob Testa dribbled and passed their way through Georgetown's full-court pressure defense. They made only one turnover between them.
"The fact that we were able to get through the pressure in decent shape gave us a chance to work for a decent shot," said Folliard.
Nobody from Georgetown, now 19-4 going into Saturday night's game against Boston College, claimed the Hoyas played well last night, but the players opted rather to give Stonehill, a Division II club, credit after its fourth loss to a Division I team in a 10-9 season.
"They really broke the press well," said Georgetown captain Steve Martin. "People tend to look at a school's name and not the five ballplayers we're playing against.
"I thought we caused them some problems," Folliard said, "but not many when they got the ball inside. Then there was nothing we could do."
The inside man was forward Craig Shelton. Thompson said he instructed his players to look more than usual for Shelton in the second half because of the game's pace.
Shelton responded by scoring 21 points, including 14 on seven-for-eight shooting during a 20-possession span that brought Georgetown to a 56-51 lead with 5:19 to go. When Martin, who contributed eight assists, connected with center Ed Spriggs for a layup on Georgetown's next possession, the Hoyas led, 58-51, and Stonehill never got closer.
Thompson said he ordered his squad to look more inside, instead of depending so much on the outside marksmanship of John Duren and Eric Floyd, because "you have a tendency to become conscious of your shooting."
Duren nevertheless scored 18 points, to rise to eighth on GU's alltime scoring list, and Floyd netted 14.
However, the Hoyas were standing around so much on offense that Thompson paid the Chieftains a supreme compliment by ordering a four-corner offense with 8:50 to play.
Thompson said he did this to get the Chieftains out of their two-three-zone defense and to pick up some more fouls, so Georgetown could get into the bonus situation.
"It was a good move," Folliard agreed. "When you get down to five minutes and it's that close, even a high school team can beat a college team on some nights."
Stonehill had only two team fouls at that point. Georgetown quickly got to the bonus situation and the Hoyas made five of their final nine points from the foul line.
"We're supposed to blow them out -- so we're trying to prevent from losing," said Thompson. "We should play a lot better than we played tonight. It was a hard-work game. I don't think I've worked so hard moving up and down the sideline and jumping since my first year."
The Hoyas ripped Seton Hall by 25 points in their previous game, described by Thompson as "our best 40 minutes of basketball this season." Now, the question is will the Hoyas maintain momentum in the final three regular-season games -- against Boston College, George Washington and Holy Cross.
"I hope it (this game) won't do anything to it," Thompson said. "It remains to be seen." CAPTION: Picture, Craig Shelton, forced outside by Stonehill defense, arches a left-handed hook shot over Terry McGlynn destined to miss and be rebounded by the visitors' Bill Zolga (42), leaving Ed Spriggs of Georgetown empty-handed . By Richard Darcey -- The Washington Post