The wild, wacky Georgetown-George Washington basketball series turned ugly last night as the 16th-ranked Hoyas came away 73-71 winners at Smith Center.
Not until GW guard Curt Jeffries' 16-foot jumper at the buzzer rimmed the basket and fell harmlessly to the floor could Georgetown be sure of its 21st victory in 25 games.
The game included a fist fight early in the second half between Georgetown's 6-foot-11 Tom Scates and GW's 6-4 guard, Bob Lindsay. Both players were ejected. For GW, it had to be the worst trade in local sports since the old Senators obtained Denny McLain.
Lindsay, still hobbled by a sore knee, came off the bench and got the Colonials back into the game with 16 first-half points. Nevertheless, after he and Scates departed with 16:53 to play, GW stayed in the emotionally packed game.
In fact, the Colonials had plenty of opportunities down the stretch to pull out the game. Instead, they dropped to 13-12 before a sellout home crowd of 5,000 that posted tasteless signs, used a number of obscene cheers and stopped play frequently down the stretch by throwing objects on the floor.
The two possessions following a basket by Jeffries giving the Colonials a 66-65 lead with 4:47 to play loomed large as turning points in this game, one of a series that has been decided by two points or less in five of the last six regular-season meetings.
On the first possession, GW spread out to the four corners, wanting to get the ball inside for a layup or to draw a foul. Georgetown countered by plugging the middle.Nevertheless, Brian Magid started to drive into the lane.
Magid pulled up and passed toward the corner. But GW center Mike Zagardo, who was there, stepped to the inside as Magid's pass went to the outside. "It was a bad pass," GW Coach Bob Tallent said later.
GW came back and sat in a two-three zone defense, one of the few occasions all night the Colonials didn't play man-to-man against their quicker opponents. Georgetown worked almost 40 seconds before John Duren took an open 18-foot shot and connected.
Now trailing by a point, the tables were turned on GW and the Colonials had to force the action. Tom Glenn, guilty of several key misplays down the stretch for GW, missed a jumper, but Zagardo was fouled by reserve Jeff Bullis going for the rebound.
Zagardo missed the first shot in his bonus one-and-one, Glenn missed a followup and Duren took the rebound. By this time, GW was using a small lineup to counter Georgetown's four-corners, which the Hoyas used as early as the 10-minute mark of the second half.
So Georgetown, in an effort to make use of its size -- and quickness -- reverted to a double high-post stall. The Hoyas wanted to get baseline layups or draw fouls. On successive possessions, they got layups, by Steve Martin, who led all scorers with 20 points and number of big plays, and by Eric Floyd.
With a basket by Jeffries in between, GW found itself with the ball and three points down, 71-68, with 48 seconds to play.
Mike Samson missed a shot for GW, but Glenn grabbed the rebound and almost got a three-point play. Instead, his followup bounced off and he was awarded two free throws for the foul by Craig Shelton.
Glenn made the first, but missed the second and the Colonials were forced to foul, Samson's fifth sending Martin to the foul line for a one-and-one with 13 seconds to play. GW called time and its magic-message board -- off slightly to the side of the basket -- lit up "Brick" with a picture of one.
But Martin made both shots for a 73-69 lead. Jeffries countered with a 15-footer with six seconds left and GW used its final timeout to stop the clock. On the inbounds pass, Paul Gracza fouled Duren, who missed the first shot in the one-and-one.
Magid got the rebound and released the outlet pass to Tate, who fed Jeffries past the midcourt line. Jeffries took a couple of dribbles and fired up the ball from the right side, just back and to the side of the foul line.
Ed Spriggs, who got in foul trouble himself after Scates was ejected, couldnht reach the ball. It still had enough momentum to hit the inside of the rim, spin around and almost drop.
Georgetown Coach John Thompson collected an early technical foul, from referee Joe Silvester, as his team trailed, 8-2. "There's so much emotion that the game had to be called close and that's about what I wanted," he said.
Some observers were surprised that there was only one fight, the climate being what it was.
Scates said he was unsure how the fight started, that there was "just a lot of jostling around."
Lindsay said that, as he ran into two previous picks set by Scates, the 6-foot-11 Georgetown center elbowed him in the neck. As he ran into the third pick, Lindsay said he raised his own forearm in defense and then they started swinging.
Samson tried climbing Scates' back but quickly retreated. No punches were landed, order was quickly restored, and Silvester ejected Scates and Lindsay.
"I donht really think the officials saw what happened," Lindsay said. "It was nothing but a lot of show. He starts swinging and what can I do. Hell, I don't want to fight him. It's like trying to stop a Metro."
"I think we got the worst of the loss (the ejection)," Tallent said. "Scates was imposing inside, but Lindsay had an excellent first half and I think he would have had an excellent second half."
Georgetown, which has a reputation for a thin bench despite its national ranking, was forced to use Bullis in the middle of its tow-three zone when Scates was tossed and Spriggs picked up three successive rebound fouls in 73 seconds midway in the half, sending him to the bench with four.
Bullis played nine minutes in the middle and he did a fine job as the Hoyas collapsed around Zagardo, who scored 14 points, only four after intermission.