Boston College forward Vin Caraher banked in a 10-foot jump shot with two-seconds remaining in overtime tonight and the Eagles pulled a 75-74 upset of nationally ranked Georgetown in the ECAC Holiday Festival in Madison Square Garden.
The biggest victory in Coach Tom Davis' three-year rebuilding at BC put the Eagles into Friday's 9 p.m., final tournament and left the 7-2 Hoyas to ponder the shortcomings GU displayed to the crowd of 10,466 and to prepare for the third-place game.
For awhile in tonight's second game it appeared that the consolation matchup might well be Georgetown versus St. John's. Such a confrontatio would involve two of the East's three nationally ranked teams and the two teams that most people anticipated would play for the championship here. Lafayette trailed by only one point with 7:51 to play, but the Redmen (7-1) finally wore the spots off the Leopards, prevailing, 68-58. It was Lafayette's first loss in five games.
Georgetown had an 11-point lead with 15 minutes left, but scored only three baskets the remainder of regulation, failing to make outside jumpers over Boston's ultra sagging zone and succumbling to the Eagle zone press late in regulation.
"Our shot selection was questionable," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said. "You get the lead and you become lackadaisical and before you know, they're back in it. We became too cautious when we got the (53-42) lead."
"They capitalized on our confusion," was the way Georgetown point guard John Duren described BC's eight-point comeback in the final 3:48 of regulation.
But there was not confusion in the overtime period when Georgetown rallied from three points down for a 74-73 lead on Duren's 16-foot jumper, after Craig Shelton, who shared scoring honors of 20 with Eric Floyd, and Eric Smith trapped Chris Foy in the corner and stole the ball.
Ten seconds remained when Coach Davis called his team's final timeout.
"I tried not to look too disappointed myself, "Davis said. We had our best ball-handling team in the game and lost the ball."
The play Davis chose called for point guard Jim Sweeney to dribble upcourt, penetrate from the right baseline and take any of three options: shoot, pass off to either Caraher or center Joe Beaulieu on the right side or spin and pass back to fellow guards John Bagley or Dwan Chandler.
Georgetown, which had trouble all night preventing inside shots by the shorter Eagles, shoed a token zone press, then dropped back into man-for-man coverage.
Sweeney was able to dribble the entire length of the court.
"Yes, you want to cut the man off," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson, "but you don't wnat to foul."
The plan, said Duren, was "to stay in front of him (Sweeney). We didn't want to foul him."
As Sweeney dribbled underneath, he recalled later, "I knew there was less than five seconds left.I saw Vin and tired to get him the ball quickly."
"It's my first game-winner," said Caraher, a junior who lost his starting job this season. "I didn't know how much time was left. I just saw the open shot and took it. It's the most exciting shot I've had in basketball."
Seeing that Caraher was open, Shelton moved to defend. Wary of fouling. Shelton said he decided to try to intimidate Caraher instead of blocking the shot.
"I thought about trying to block it," Shelton said. "But I felt I better not try it because I might foul him. So I just put a hand in his face."
Ironically, Georgetown was wary of fouling while BC was taking advantage of tonight's style of officiating to play more aggressively in its comeback.
Boston College is 6-1, having lost only to top-ranked Duke in overtime last week. Now the Eagles have beaten Georgetown, a team ranked 13th and 17th in the polls. Nevertheless, Davis says his squad is not yet a top-20 candidate.
"You know you're lucky when you beat a club like this," said Davis.
He may not have the top-20 talent yet, but he has the Eagles doing what they can do very well -- such as working the ball inside off baseline screens for much easier shots than Georgetown got most of the night, because of Eagle zone defense.
No possession better illustrated it than the final one of regulation, when Georgetown ran down the clock 66-all from 1:35 for a final shot with the score tied.
Georgetown ended up with Floyd missing a 20-footer from the right baseline.
"They knew we wanted to get it into Craig (Shelton)," said Duren. "They were playing so good we had to take the jump shot."
"I came out as far as I had to," Floyd said afterward. "That's my shot. I don't feel bad about the shot, because it is my shot. It just didn't drop."
Then BC got what Davis called the Eagles' luck tonight. He had been playing his smallest lineup, with four guards -- the likely reason Georgetown did not use one of four timeouts it had left at that point.
"I wouldn't have taken it either," Davis said. "Nine time out of 10 Georgetown is going to get another shot. But Chandler got in there and tipped the rebound to the corner (as time expired)."
BC got the jump in overtime when Beaulieu scored a three-point play on the first possession. The other big play, besides Caraher's game winner was an offensive rebound by Burnett Adams after Foy missed the front end of a one-and-one. Sweeney then sunk two free throws for a 73-70 lead.
Floyd's jump shot brought it to 73-72 and set up the frantic finale.