With a performance that Coach John Thompson called the finest by any team he's coached, Georgetown shot an NCAA tournament record 74.4 percent from the field today and routed Oregon State, 69-45, to capture the West Regional championship and a berth in the final four.
Georgetown (29-6) faces Mideast champion Louisville (23-9) in one national semifinal at the Superdome in New Orleans Saturday. The winners of Sunday's North Carolina-Villanova and Houston-Boston College games will play in the other semifinal. The national title game will be played March 29.
This is the Hoyas' best showing in the NCAA tournament since the 1943 team lost in the championship game to Wyoming.
Although Thompson said he will find a "few faults" when he reviews films of today's Marriott Center mismatch, he couldn't have been happier with the Hoyas' near-flawless showing, especially in the first 20 minutes, when they all but wrapped up the game.
"Champions play when they have to play," Thompson said.
Georgetown, getting fine outside shooting from Eric Floyd (22 points) and inside baskets from 7-foot center Patrick Ewing (13), made 29 of 39 shots. In breaking the previous mark of 68.6 percent set by Indiana last year, the Hoyas once made 13 straight shots, including their first 10 of the second half. In the two games here, they made 50 of 72. Georgetown beat Fresno State, 58-40, Thursday night.
"Yeah, that's all I've heard all year, 'Georgetown can't shoot,' " Thompson said. "Free throws, too. I even got letters from people offering advice on shooting."
The Hoyas could have given lessons in all phases of the game today. A partisan crown of 14,986 fell silent as the Hoyas limited OSU to three field goals and nine points in its first 19 possessions while making nine of their first 16 shots. They held a 24-9 advantage with 9:46 left in the first half and never were threatened.
Ewing, the player OSU feared most, drew his first personal foul, a charge, the first time his team had the ball. After that, he did much as he pleased. Three of his first four shots were dunks, and his mere presence in the middle of an intimidating, aggressive zone unnerved the Beavers.
While the Beavers concentrated on trying to contain Ewing, Floyd became almost unstoppable. The 6-3 all-America, named most outstanding player in the regional, either sank long jumpers or moved down an open lane for layups. He scored 18 points in the first half, getting his team's final eight and 14 of its last 18 before intermission.
"Pat is such an awesome force inside that a team would be stupid not to fall back on him, and that left things open for me outside," Floyd said.
Added Thompson: "We tried to get the ball into Ewing early, and once we did, they tended to forget about our other guys, especially Eric Floyd."
OSU couldn't keep pace with Floyd, Eric Smith or Freddie Brown. Each time the Beavers lost the ball or made an errant shot, the Hoyas beat them upcourt.
In one five-minute first-half span, Floyd made a shot from the deep corner; Ed Spriggs, who made four of his five shots and had five rebounds, sank a 10-footer; Floyd made two free throws after Charlie Sitton fouled, having been faked to his knees; Floyd sank a shot from the other corner; Ewing dunked off a lob pass from Anthony Jones, and Floyd made a free throw for a 35-19 advantage with 4:39 to go.
"They came out and just jumped on us," said Sitton, who had 12 points and two rebounds. "We're usually a good defensive team, and we handle the ball better than we showed. They would throw the ball in to Ewing. I would jump as high as I could, and he'd still be six to eight inches above me."
Only Lester Conner, OSU's senior all-America guard, was able to produce any offense in the first half. Seven of his team-high 13 points came in the first 20 minutes, as he tried to keep his team close.
But Floyd made a three-point play after being fouled on a drive down the lane with 39 seconds left in the half, then drove for a layup with six seconds left to give Georgetown a 42-25 lead at intermission.
OSU Coach Ralph Miller said his players weren't ignoring Floyd, "They had just too many good athletes for us. Ewing was one big problem, Floyd another. We knew exactly what they were doing. They just did everything so well."
The extra five minutes the Beavers stayed in their locker room at intermission didn't produce any solutions to their problems. The Hoyas waited for good shots and made their first 10. Brown, Floyd, Spriggs and Jones each made two.
OSU, which shot 38 percent, 20 of 52, missed six of its first seven shots. Ewing capped the Hoyas' streak with a running sky hook that seemed to drop from the lights, and Floyd added a free throw for a 63-35 lead with 10:22 left.
"The key was containing No. 32 (Conner)," said Ewing, who also had three rebounds, a steal and a block. "We felt if we did that, we had the game won. The other key was hitting the offensive and defensive boards."
Georgetown outrebounded the Beavers, 28-22, but had twice as many in the first 20 minutes, of the game when it really mattered.
Thompson, who admitted having flashbacks of blowing a 14-point lead and losing to Iowa, 81-80, two years ago in the East Regional final, ordered his team to a delay game with the Hoyas leading by 25 and 10 minutes left. The crowd began booing and many headed for the exits, but Georgetown didn't take another shot until Sitton blocked a layup by Ewing with 2:29 remaining.
"Maybe we went to the delay game a bit early," said Thompson, who will be the first black coach in the final four. "But I can remember, and so does Floyd, (Eric) Smith, Spriggs and the other guys, being way out in front of Iowa and getting in a shooting match that sent us home. I wasn't going to do that again."