Georgetown played without its coach, John Thompson, and its point guard, Michael Jackson, but still had little trouble beating Seton Hall, 73-56, last night in a Big East opener at Capital Centre.
Thompson very reluctantly stayed home with a throat infection. And Jackson, although in uniform, took another day to allow his sore right shoulder to heal.
In their absence, the top-ranked Hoyas had four players in double figures, Patrick Ewing and Billy Martin combined for 26 rebounds and Ralph Dalton turned in a fine performance at center when Ewing fouled out.
The result was the 12th victory without a loss this season for Georgetown, which was directed by assistant coaches Craig Esherick and Mike Riley.
Both assistants said they would rather not make postgame remarks in Thompson's absence. But as all-America Ewing said, "We tried to do things as we do them in practice and, hopefully, we did them as our coaches wanted them done."
Ewing fouled out with five minutes to play, but not before scoring 11 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking five shots.
It was Ewing's three consecutive baskets on offensive rebounds that got the Hoyas going. In fact, unofficially, Georgetown had 10 offensive rebounds in the first 13 minutes of the second half.
Several of them went to Martin, who had 14 rebounds and 12 points, and to Williams, who had seven rebounds and 11 points. David Wingate, Georgetown's junior swing man, led his team in scoring with 17 points and had four assists.
But the story of this game was told inside. Andre McCloud, the junior forward from H.D. Woodson, led the Pirates (9-3) with 20 points, on seven-for-13 shooting, and eight rebounds.
But he didn't get much help on the boards, as the Hoyas outrebounded Seton Hall, 48-33. And most of McCloud's points came from long-range jumpers.
The Pirates' best inside player, 6-foot-9 freshman Mark Bryant, got into early foul trouble and wasn't extremely effective when he did play. Bryant, who came into the game averaging 13 points, scored only six last night, missing seven of 10 shots from the field.
When he picked up his fourth foul just three minutes into the second half, Seton Hall Coach P.J. Carlesimo was forced to go with a lineup in which the tallest player was 6-6 McCloud.
"We had Bryant on the bench and the other players were outmanned," Carlesimo said. "They were using their size and strength, cleanly, to move us out of there."
The rebounding mismatch really began when Ewing got a third shot at the basket following misses by Wingate and Williams. Ewing scored the layup for a 43-31 Hoya lead.
McCloud hit a couple of free throws to cut the margin to 43-33 just before Bryant picked up his fourth foul. Ewing knew his team wasn't shooting particularly well from the outside, and began to hit the offensive boards even harder.
His one-handed stuff of a Williams miss made it 45-33, and another followup sunk took Georgetown's lead to 47-33 with just more than 14 minutes to play.
Georgetown continued its board work on the offensive end even when Ewing went to the bench with his third foul. Dalton grabbed one of his five rebounds and missed two foul shots. But Williams put in the missed free throw.
But McCloud got hot from the outside and hit two long jumpers that brought Seton Hall to 47-40.
Carlesimo played three freshmen -- Bryant, forward Martin Salley and guard James Major. They are part of the reason Seton Hall played so well in the pre-Big East season. But last night, they made only eight of 23 shots from the field, one of five from the line and had six turnovers.
McCloud, who is quite familiar with the Georgetown players, said he told his teammates the first step to competing with the Hoyas is to not be intimidated by them. But whether or not it was nerves, the freshmen -- faced with playing on the road against the No. 1 team in the nation -- played like rookies.
Of the Pirates' weaknessess, the one that stood out most was their inability to make free throws. Both teams shot 45 percent from the foul line. But, as Carlesimo said, "You don't get a lot of chances against Georgetown, so you better make the best of the ones you get."
The Pirates, who had won four straight before last night, didn't make the best of their opportunities from the line or the field. McCloud missed a jumper and Georgetown scored 10 straight, raising the lead to 57-40 when Horace Broadnax made a jumper with just more than eight minutes to play.
Carlesimo was upset with his team for not playing up to its potential. "The poor free throw shooting and a lack of composure in the first half hurt," he said. "The free throws killed us, really. When Georgetown was struggling a bit, we could have tightened it up a bit."
The Pirates thought they might have tightened it up when the Hoyas were forced to play without Ewing and Williams. Broadnax played the point in Williams' absence, and made five of nine shots and had a couple of good assists inside to maintain the Hoya lead.
Carlesimo is an admirer of Michael Jackson, but he added, "Playing Horace and Reggie, it's not like you're hurting, either."
When Williams was told it looked like he had played point guard all his life, he said, "I have, off and on. They have good, quick, small guards. But I'm used to practicing hard against Michael and Horace and they're both about 6 feet."
Williams also took it upon himself to think more about rebounding when Ewing wasn't on the floor. "You always worry when a great player like Pat gets in foul trouble," he said.
Even without their accustomed leadership -- coach and point guard -- the Hoyas were able to easily win their 23rd straight game.