Mike Hancock sank a 10-foot baseline jump shot with one second remaining in the second overtime to give Georgetown a hard-fought 84-82 victory over arch rival George Washington before 4,600 screaming fans last night at the Smith Center.
"I just went to one side after we got the rebound," said Hancock, who finished with 12 points on five for six shooting from the floor. "I was trying to set a pick for Eric (Floyd) but they overplayed him and Gene (Smith) got the ball upcourt, gave me a perfect pass and I knocked it in, I knew I didn't have much time, so I shot it as soon as I could."
Excluding the Hoyas' 24-point victory last year, the six previous meetings between the two Northwest schools had been decided by a total of 11 points. But a quick glance at the two teams' strengths and weaknesses and results from their previous games this season offered no logical reason why this one would be close. And, when Georgetown (5-2) led by 17 points with 13 minutes left in regulation, logic seemed to be prevailing.
But GW (1-3) defied logic by making a miraculous comeback, helped considerably by the Hoyas making only one field goal in the final 8:16 of regulation. In fact, the Colonials had several chances to win each extra session.
Two free throws by Randy Davis gave GW an 82-80 lead with 4:04 to play in the second overtime.
Over the next three minutes, both teams botched numerous opportunities to put the game away. GW will look back and see two missed shots and a free throw by Wilbert Skipper and a missed free throw by Oscar Wilmington. Even after Georgetown's Eric Smith finally tied the contest at 82 with two free throws with 52 seconds left, the hosts still were in excellent position to upset the UPI's 18th-ranked team.
The Colonials played for one shot and, despite tough defense by Georgetown, got a good shot. Davis, a 6-foot guard, managed to get away from his defender and slipped down the lane. His 10-footer banged off the back rim and Hoya forward Jeff Bullis collared the rebound with seven seconds left. Bullis' outlet pass went to Gene Smith, a swift freshman from McKinley Tech who seemed to get upcourt in two strides. His pass went to Hancock who scored the game winner. Smith had come into the game when Freddie Brown fouled out with 1:50 to play in the second overtime.
"Everyone was talking about Hancock, they forget Smith made a hell of a play to get the ball upcourt so quickly," said an emotionally drained Thompson. "Any time you have an 11-, 15- or even a 17-point lead and you lose it, you have to feel bad. That happening to us did a lot for us. We got a chance to play tough at the end.
"When you go to four corners and they have to come after you, you expect to get some foul shots," Thompson said. "We didn't get any. And when you don't get to the line, it looks like a bad tactic. We didn't want to stop shooting but we wanted to get some unmolested shots and penetrate for layups. GW stuck some good shots near the end."
Gimpy-legged point guard Curtis Jeffries led the GW comeback. The 6-foot guard, who is hobbled by bursitis in the knee, hit five clutch jump shots and a pair of free throws in the final minutes of regulation and the two overtimes before he fouled out after scoring a team-high 18 points. Georgetown's Floyd led all scorers with 25.
"Curtis was just phenomenal near the end," said GW Coach Bob Tallent. "Oscar also hit a big basket for us. But we just made a few mistakes. We're young, and young players make mistakes. We missed those free throws when we had a chance to go way ahead. We wanted Randy to shoot with maybe five seconds left. He may have shot a few seconds too soon, but that's nit-picking. He still got a good shot and if he made it . . ."
Sparked by the shooting and the floor play of Jeffries, the overall efforts of Wilmington (17 points, five assists), Paul Gracza (10 points, nine rebounds) and Skipper (15 points), GW came back from 63-47 deficit with just under 13 minutes left in regulation.
Still trailing, 67-52, with 9:26 left in regulation, the Colonials whittled away at the Hoya lead until Wilmington's 18-foot shot from the top of the key with three seconds left ied the game at 72-72 and brought on the first overtime.
GW gained the lead for the first time since the opening seconds on a pair of free throws by Gracza. Georgetown quickly tied the game and the teams exchanged turnovers before Eric Smith converted a Floyd steal into a layup to tie the contest at 78-78 with 50 seconds left. Neither team could score and the game went into a second overtime.