Perhaps they would like to forget the game, to forget Georgetown's David Wingate picking up a loose ball and driving 75 feet for the breakaway layup that beat them at the buzzer, 69-67.

But they don't. They can't. Those frames of horror are locked forevermore on the Betamax in Boston College's basketball office. And the players keep playing it over and over, forward and backward.

"I remember looking up at the clock from the back court as Wingate dribbled away," said Jay Murphy, Boston College forward. "I was shocked. I just stood there."

Guard Michael Adams, who drove the lane on the Eagles' final play, only to have Georgetown's Michael Jackson knock away the ball freakishly to Wingate, remembers, "I cried in the locker room for 10, 15 minutes after that. I cried like a baby. I've never done that before. I've replayed that play six times so I won't forget it. It hurts me. I can't wait to redeem myself. "

Tonight at 8 o'clock comes one of those reasons they put the "Big" in the Big East Conference: No. 16 Georgetown (19-7, 9-4) will play No. 15 Boston College (20-5, 10-4) in the Boston Garden (WTTG-TV-5). All 15,320 seats were sold out in three days in January. It's the game where Georgetown's Patrick Ewing returns home.

And the game where Boston College says it will return the favor.

Actually, it so happens that that Jan. 29 loss to the Hoyas at the Capital Centre has served as both a knife and fork to these Eagles. The knife, simply put, went through their hearts.

The fork was in their road--and the Eagles went 'round the right bend. They are 7-1 since that loss, ranked No. 15, a lofty status only Doug Flutie and the BC football team are supposed to be able to achieve.

"The Georgetown game was the game where our players learned to believe in themselves. Even though we lost the game, we came away knowing we could play on the road with a team like Georgetown and that was an important step for us," says Gary Williams, Boston College's first-year coach who transferred his sideline inferno here after five years of smoke-rising at American.

Actually, there have been many important steps for Boston College since star guard John Bagley went hardship and Coach Tom Davis went to Stanford after last season. The Eagles made the final 16, then the final eight in the last two NCAA tournaments.

Enter Williams, a man with an open mind, an open offense and a pressure defense that opens leads. Twice this season, these Eagles have beaten St. John's; they have split two games with Villanova, and Williams says, "We still have a chance to tie Villanova for first place in the regular season."

What a strange concoction, these Eagles. The starting lineup is composed of a center, John Garris, who transfered from Michigan two years ago; a forward, Martin Clark, who learned basketball while growing up in England; another forward, Murphy, who keeps converting 20-foot left-handed jumpers while hiding in the body of a 6-foot-10 center.

And the guards are Dominic Pressley, only a freshman from Washington's Mackin High School, and Adams, a 5-foot-8 waterbuggish type who swears, "I'm a sophomore now, so I have got to be 5-10."

Now, check the facts: Garris is so tough in the lane, averaging 19.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Clark adds 9.3 points worth of experience. Murphy has scored 30 points in two Big East games and averages 17.4 points per game.

Pressley continues to improve, averaging 5.9 points per game. And Michael Adams--could there be a more apt surname for someone who leads a Boston outfit?--produces 16.5 points and more than five assists per game.

"A lot of times a collection like this doesn't work out," says Adams. "This one does. We all have our roles. We aren't struggling to reach the NCAA this year, like we were at this time last year. We're at our peak now."

Williams sees a properly directed fury and purpose in the work done this season by his veterans: "These players have had a whole year now to prove that last season wasn't a fluke. I think that that has been a motivating force for these guys, to show that they are really good players and not just guys who played four or five games well at the end of last season."

Adams goes a tad further, saying, "Now we're heading back to the NCAA, right where we started."