If it was not Patrick Ewing's finest hour, at least it was his finest 45 minutes.
Georgetown's 7-foot center scored a career-high 30 points Saturday night, making 13 of 17 shots from the field. "I don't think anyone was really effective covering me out there," Ewing said.
Under his command, the No. 2-ranked Hoyas held off the second-half fury of Western Kentucky for a 70-66 overtime victory in the championship game of the third annual Wendy's Classic in Bowling Green, Ky.
Now the Hoyas are 5-0, their best start since the 7-0 liftoff in the 1978-79 season. And Ewing's 30-point concerto earned him the tournament's most valuable player award and honors as the first Hoya to score 30 points in a game since Eric Floyd scored 31 against Iowa in the 1980 East Regional final.
"When the time comes," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said, "Patrick comes to play."
Goggling over Ewing's performance -- "Ewing is the best since Bill Russell," Western Kentucky Coach Clem Haskins said -- was tempered by the fact the Hoyas let a 36-19 lead with 18:22 left in regulation slip away.
"We got tired in the second half," Thompson said. "We made enough mistakes to lose the game."
Western Kentucky rallied behind forward Tony (TWA) Wilson, who scored 16 of his team-high 25 points in the second half. Wilson's 20-footer from the left base line tied the score, 60-60, with 16 seconds left in regulation.
Then, Georgetown freshman Michael Jackson missed an open 10-footer with six seconds to play. Western Kentucky rebounded, then called time out. But guard Bobby Jones' half-court shot was plenty short, guaranteeing overtime.
The teams exchanged baskets and leads in the five-minute overtime until Georgetown freshman guard David Wingate, suffering from the flu, hit a 12-footer from the left side with 1:05 left in overtime, giving the Hoyas a 67-66 lead.
After WKU missed a shot, the Hoyas ran the clock down. With 10 seconds to play in overtime, Jackson was fouled and hit his first free throw. Georgetown led, 68-66.
When Jackson missed his second free throw, Ewing circled around his man on the right side, grabbed the rebound and scored the basket to give the Hoyas a safe -- and soon to be final -- 70-66 edge.
Georgetown junior guard Fred Brown still is recuperating from knee surgery -- he is expected back soon, Thompson said -- and senior guard Gene Smith fouled out of the game with 9:14 left in regulation. So the two freshmen guards, Wingate and Jackson, got their first experience in a game closer than 21 points, which none of the Hoyas' first four victories were.
Jackson committed six turnovers, Wingate five. They made mistakes at crucial moments, but they kept coming back. In the clutch.
"We have to let the people who will play make their mistakes now," Thompson said.
Another struggle took place in Buffalo, where Maryland played fairly well but needed a special offense designed for sophomore Adrian Branch to defeat Canisius, 67-66. Coach Lefty Driesell and several of the Terrapins said a close victory on the road may be just what this seniorless team needed.
"Hopefully, we learned a lesson last night," said Maryland guard Steve Rivers, "and that is to play together, to play as a team. We finally started to play together toward the end of the game. I think that can carry over."
Driesell's decision last week to move Rivers, a junior, to point guard, has given the team some floor leadership and sense of team play the Terrapins didn't have in the preseason or in an 18-point loss to Penn State.
Despite his promising performances against Maryland-Eastern Shore and Canisius, it's too early to call Rivers the definitive answer at playmaker.
Rivers' ball-handling has also freed Branch to do the things he does best -- work the lane and the base lines -- and cut down on forced shots. Whether Maryland has improved substantially will be seen Wednesday night, when St. Joseph's visits Cole Field House.
Maryland freshman Ed Farmer, who did not accompany the team to Canisius, was told by Dr. Stan Lavine, the team physician, to rest his sore left shoulder through Tuesday. Farmer will be examined again Wednesday.