Georgetown won another basketball game last night. It also was involved in another ugly incident, one that marred what should have been a satisfying evening for Coach John Thompson.
After playing a flat first half, the Hoyas (8-2), again sparked by their defense, played a superb final 20 minutes to easily defeat Western Kentucky, 64-45, before 8,802 in Capital Centre. It was the Hoyas' seventh straight victory, and Eric Floyd led the way with 22 points. Patrick Ewing, dominating at both ends during the second half, had 15 points, several spectacular dunks, 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
The defense held the Hilltoppers to 17 points the last 20 minutes and 34 percent shooting for the game.
Western Kentucky (4-4) is a good team, an NCAA tournament team a year ago. Yet, after struggling to a 38-36 lead in the first 26 minutes, the Hoyas struck with stunning quickness, going on an 11-2 tear that grew into a 20-5 string and put the game away. No Kentucky player reached double figures; the team made but seven of 25 shots the final half.
"There were times when we would have lost playing like this," Thompson said. "To play like this and win, the night can't be all bad."
But, as has happened before this season, much of the postgame conversation had to do with an incident that had nothing to do with basketball.
It was the final sequence of the game. Ewing grabbed a rebound off a scramble and, as he turned to look up court, Western Kentucky's 5-foot-10 point guard, Bobby Jones, rushed in, apparently to commit an intentional foul. As he did, he collided with Ewing.
"Patrick said that when the kid rushed in, he hit the guy as he was pivoting," Thompson said. "The kid reacted; that happens in an emotional game and this game was emotional and physical. The kids told me that he (Jones) took a swing at Patrick. At that point, Freddie Brown came in and punched the kid."
Brown's punch flattened Jones. He lay on his back, woozy, his eye blackened, his lip cut and several teeth knocked loose. Both benches cleared briefly, time had expired, and Thompson came onto the court and ordered his players to the locker room. The Western Kentucky team remained on the court for several minutes, for as long as it took for Jones to get up.
"We're not going to say anything about that," said Brown, who is 6-5, when asked about the incident. "It was an impulse. The guy threw a punch at Pat."
Jones did not want to talk about what happened either. "From film we watched of other games, I saw them throwing a lot of elbows," he said. "I was looking out for it during the game. I hated that it ended like that but I don't want to say anything about it."
His teammate, De Matha graduate Percy White, who had a shoving match with Brown earlier, did talk. "I saw Pat go for the rebound and then my teammate (Jones) caught an elbow. There was no call for that punch at all."
Thompson, who said he "chewed" on his players after they led only 29-28 at the half, was pleased with the way they came back to outscore the Hilltoppers, 35-17, in the second half. But he was not delighted that, again, he was forced to answer questions about violence.
"If I thought it was getting out of hand, I would be concerned," Thompson said. "But I think I have control of my team. I talked to the players about it, in fact, at first, I thought Patrick threw the punch and I started to get upset with him. But it was Fred."
Ewing sent a Yugoslavian player flying with an elbow in an exhibition game and was involved in a pushing, shoving and talking match with two George Washington players last week, at one point pushing his hand into the face of Penny Elliott.
Western Kentucky Coach Clem Haskins blamed the incident on the officials, who, he said, "did a terrible job. They didn't keep things under control. If they want to be in the NBA, they should be in the NBA. This is college ball. I don't blame Georgetown for the incident, although I'm very sorry it happened."
According to those who saw the replay on television, Brown's punch came from the side and behind. "I'm not condoning what happened," Thompson said. "My teams have never been known for starting brawls. But if someone throws a punch, you react."