The McDonough Arena sellout crowd of 4,523 gave Georgetown's six senior basketball players a standing ovation before last night's regular season finale against Holy Cross. The Hoyas did not let them down.
Georgetown's season-ending steam roller continued, the Hoyas shooting better than 75 percent over the final 25 minutes and blowing out their Jesuit rivals from Massachusetts, 105-78, for their 10th consecutive victory.
The Hoyas will take a 21-5 record into the Big East tournament Thursday in Providence, R.I. Holy Cross (16-10) is seeded No. 1 for the upcoming ECAC North tournament, but there was nothing these Crusaders could do last night once Georgetown gained its momentum.
"That's the best team we've played all year, including Ohio State," said George Blaney, the Holy Cross coach. "It's a terrific team, great size. They wear you down with their depth and size. It's as deep as any Big Ten or West Coast team."
With a scambled defense that gave Georgetown some early problems and with its own patient offense, Holy Cross nursed a 31-26 lead late in the half. Then Georgetown increased its tempo and the momentum kept building.
The Hoyas scored on their final nine possessions of the first half including two straight steals off a full-court zone press that Blaney later would call vital, for a 44-37 lead at intermission.
Georgetown scored on its first three possessions of the second half. From the time it was 31-26 against the Hoyas, they made 31 of their final 39 shots -- a phenomenal 79 percent.
Craig Shelton finished his home career with 22 points for Georgetown, one more than Eric (Sleepy) Floyd. John Duren, also a senior contributed 13 points 11 in the second half, and 11 assists.
Reserve Tom Seaman was high for Holy Cross with 24 points as Ronnie Perry, the senior guard recently selected to the Ecac all-decade team, again failed to impress against the Hoyas, scoring 13 points on five-for-15 shooting. In his four years at Holy Cross, his team was 0-5 against Georgetown and Duren.
Since a midseason slump in which Georgetown lost four of eight games plus the services of fifth and sixth men Ed Spriggs and Jeff Bullis with injury and illness, the Hoyas have been playing with the effort of a team possessed.
It is in great contrast to the tentativeness the Hoyas showed in the first two months of the season.
"I appealed to their pride and they responded very well," said Coach John Thompson.
There is no secret to their success. The three stars -- Shelton, Duren and Floyd -- are excelling and the complementary players are making this a team to be reasoned with in postseason play.
Shelton got the Hoyas started last night, hitting a 14-foot jumper that reduced Holy Cross' lead to 31-28 with 4:42 left in the half.
When Perry missed, Eric Smith grabbed the rebound and began a fast break that resulted in a Shelton dunk. On the next Holy Cross possession, Seamon missed and Smith again took the rebound and started to break, this time culminated by a Floyd jumper for a 32-31 lead.
A layup by Seamon temporarily gave the Crusaders their last lead of the game, but Floyd countered with two successive baskets, the second coming on effort alone when he beat two Holy Cross players to garner his missed shot and put it back up for a successful followup.
It was 38-35 when the Hoyas made the two successive steals in Holy Cross' back court, converting one into a Floyd jumper and the second into Duren's only basket of the half.
Holy Cross center Charlie Browne fouled out early in the second half and the Crusaders could only match Georgetown basket for basket. It was 85-72 with 6 1/2 minutes to play, when the Crusaders ran completely out of gas and Georgetown's hungry players applied the kill.
Last night, two Georgetown students paraded around the court in the final minute with a sign saying "We Love You, Coach Thompson."
On this banner night all six seniors scored.
Asked to predict how far Georgetown can go in the NCAAs, Blaney replied: "They can go quite far. If they played every game in here, they'd probably win it."