Georgetown University Basketball Coach John Thompson's highly touted East regional team was beaten decisively today at the National Sports Festival by a West team that took a commanding lead midway through the fourth period and coasted to a 93-83 victory.
Playing sloppily on defense and taking shots they should have passed up, the East team, dominated by Washington-area players, lost its second game in three starts, having been beaten by the South after an easy victory over the Midwest.
The East went ahead early in the fourth quarter, 63-62, on six points by Chris Mullin of St. John's University and a layup by Patrick Ewing, a highly recruited Georgetown freshman.
But after an exchange of baskets, the West scored 12 points in a row to lead, 76-65, and the outcome was no longer in doubt. Had it not been for a dismal free throw performance by the West -- 58.4 percent -- the margin of victory would have been substantially higher.
"As you well know, the game of basketball is played in spurts," said Jim Brandenburg, the head coach at the University of Wyoming and the coach of the West team, "and we got one in every quarter. We got the longest and the beest spurt in the last quarter and that's how we won.
"We won the game on defense and under the boards."
Asked what lesson he would like his players to take home with them from the sports festival, Thompson said: "Defense. The name of the game is defense. Most young players don't understand that.
"Our perimeter defense was awful," Thompson added. "My whole team has got a lot to learn about defense."
Dominating the scoring for the West was Stuart Gray, a 7 foot, 250-pound California bound for UCLA, and Butch Hayes, a 6-3 guard from Los Angeles. Gray scored 15 points despite the defensive efforts of the 7-foot Ewing and 6-11 Earl Jones. Hayes pierced the East defense with layups and short jump shots for another 15.
Under a complicated set of festival rules, coaches are required to rotate playing time around all 12 players the first three quarters, with no free substitution until the fourth quarter.
"That's against a coach's philosophy -- you don't play the players an equal amount of time," said Thompson, adding that he was still experimenting with various combinations.
Leading the East in scoring was Mullin with 16, Jones with 14 and Ewing with 12. At times, Ewing's play appeared ragged and unpolished, and he lost control of the ball several times. But Thompson insisted he is pleased with the performance of his prize recruit.
"I came here expecting nothing. I expect to leave here with a better feeling for Patrick, his temperament, how he reacts to you guys (the news media).
"He attempts to do too much. That is a common problem for any athlete. If he can do less things better, he's better off. He can run and he's got a good competitive spirit that has to be toned down just a bit. But he's very competitive."
In a night game, Jim Master of Kentucky scored a tournament-high 27 points for the South team in an 81-80 victory over the winless Midwest team and the South moved to the final Wednesday night aagainst the West. Thompson's team will meet the Midwest in a consolation game at 3 p.m.