The game lost, a season over, the Georgetown analysis begged for simplicity today.
And this was it: Memphis State was too tall and prevailed, 66-57, in an NCAA Midwest Regional second-round game before 14,105 at Freedom Hall.
All the shrewdness founded in Georgetown Coach John Thompson's 40 substitutions, all of the fury of Patrick Ewing's 24 points and nine rebounds and all of the sheer magnificence of Gene Smith's swiping on the full-court press and Fred Brown's cunning in the half-court defense late in the game could not help the humbled Hoyas overcome this simple fact.
Consequently, the Tigers (23-7) advanced to the regional semifinals against top-ranked Houston next Friday in Kansas City, Mo. In the other second-round game today, Greg Stokes scored 22 points as Iowa upset No. 10 Missouri, 77-63; the Hawkeyes will play No. 13 Villanova in Kansas City.
For the Hoyas (22-10), the season ended here, nearly four months after it began in a Hawaiian hurricane. "I'm disappointed that we lost," said Brown, who made three steals during the Hoyas' second-half charge. "But we beat some good ball clubs this year. We had a good season."
Thompson averaged one substitution per minute today, treating his lineup like a Rubik's cube, trying every workable possibility. He nearly pulled off a supreme coaching coup.
His Hoyas rallied from a 38-25 deficit with 17 minutes left to close within 53-51 with 3:46 to play. This surge was created by a full-court press that caused many of Memphis State's 21 turnovers, and by the outside shooting of freshman guard Horace Broadnax (eight points).
In these final minutes though, the Tigers stayed in a spread offense, made nine of 12 free throws and two breakaway layups, and refused to allow the Hoyas a second chance after rebounding jumpers by Broadnax, Anthony Jones (two points) and Michael Jackson (12 points, four-for-14 shooting).
Memphis State was led by 6-foot-10 sophomore Keith Lee, the sometimes forward-sometimes center who scored 28 points and had 15 rebounds. When Lee wasn't scoring inside the key or from down the base line, guard Phillip (Doom) Haynes was scoring on gentle banks from the sides. Haynes helped Memphis State build a 30-25 halftime lead by scoring nine of his 13 points.
Memphis State, which spent the last seven minutes in a spread offense that almost backfired when a nine-point lead dwindled to two, shot 61 percent from the field, the highest against Georgetown this season. Memphis State made 28 of 39 free throws.
Georgetown shot 37 percent from the field, missing shots sadly from the outside and missing the necessary passes to Ewing when he was open inside the Tigers' 2-3 zone and man-to-man defenses. This was the Hoyas' worst shooting percentage since they lost to Alabama in December.
Memphis State also outrebounded the Hoyas, 37-22. "Because of their size we needed more help on the boards," said Thompson. "That size factor--after Patrick, we taper off."
Translated: the Hoyas have no power forward. Bill Martin, 6-7 forward, slumping the past month, played just 20 minutes, and had six points and five rebounds.
Because Memphis State outrebounded the Hoyas, 20-10, in the first half, Thompson inserted freshman David Dunn, one inch taller and much heavier than Martin, to start the second half. In 18 minutes, Dunn played with reckless abandon but with little result, missing two shots in crucial moments and committing a turnover during the key moments in the second half.
Furthermore, Georgetown freshman forward David Wingate was having trouble moving today. He strained muscles in his lower back during practice Thursday and played just 13 minutes today. He took two shots and did not score.
With seven minutes to play, Memphis State leading, 51-42, the Tigers went into a spread offense. But Georgetown's guards--primarily Smith--kept trapping the Tigers in the middle of the court. Three times, the Hoyas stole the ball from freshman guard Andre Turner. And the lead closed to 53-51 with 3:46 left.
"I don't think we went into a spread offense too early," said Memphis State Coach Dana Kirk. "If anything, we waited too long."
In the final three minutes, Kirk told his guards to dribble down the side of the court, away from the Georgetown trap. It worked. The Tigers stayed in the spread offense. Pressing full court and in their minds, several Hoyas were mired in foul trouble.
Even after Ewing (with four fouls) made a marvelous block of Lee's shot underneath with 2:59 left, Lee rebounded and was fouled by Smith, who fouled out. Lee made two free throws, giving Memphis State a 55-51 lead.
Then the Hoyas missed their jumpers and Memphis State, stalling away Georgetown's 1982-83 lifespan, made its free throws. Perhaps it was symbolic that Ewing fouled out with six seconds left: Georgetown lost six of seven games this season when he fouled out.
Thoughout the game, the Hoyas were having difficulty getting the ball inside to Ewing, guarded man-to-man by Derrick Phillips, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound center, with help from Lee. When he did get the ball in the first half, Ewing missed four dunks.
In the first half, Memphis State kept turning to Haynes with his splendid bank shots. Meanwhile, Lee kept zig-zagging inside and out, scoring 15 points in the first half. Of his 28 points, Lee scored 12 on free throws.
Memphis State started the second half with an 8-0 streak led mostly by Lee and Haynes. The lead reached its apex, 38-25, and then the Hoyas came back.
In the second game, Missouri (26-8), the Big Eight champion, held a 20-18 lead with 7:12 left before Iowa scored the last 14 points of the half. Missouri cut the lead to 57-48 with 4:58 left, but Iowa (21-9) made eight of 10 free throws in the final minute to stay ahead.
Four players placed in double figures for the Hawkeyes. Jon Sundvold led Missouri with 29 points, but center Steve Stipanovich was held to six.
"We collapsed as well as we could (on Stipanovich)," said Iowa Coach Lute Olson, who said his team had performed "about as well as we've played all year long."