Rarely is a regular season game played any more passionately than it was yesterday at Capital Centre. Boston College may have come in unranked, but it took a fabulous defensive play by Reggie Williams in the final seconds of overtime for No. 1 Georgetown to claim an 82-80 victory over the Eagles.
BC, previously undefeated, had two chances to take the game into another overtime. But Williams spoiled one with about 20 seconds left, when he seemingly came out of thin air to steal Dominic Pressley's pass to an open teammate. "Describe the play? I believe I had my eyes closed," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said later.
And when Patrick Ewing missed a free throw with 18 seconds left, the Eagles got the ball again. But Michael Adams, who led his team with 20 points, missed an off-balance, driving jumper with nine seconds left. The Hoyas controlled the the rebound and Georgetown's Horace Broadnax was fouled.
With one second left, he missed the free throw, and BC's Skip Barry threw a desperation heave downcourt that was nowhere close to the basket as time ran out.
That left the Hoyas, 13-0 this season, with their 24th consecutive victory and BC with a lot of respect to go with its 10-1 record, even if only 12,871 showed up to see one of the finest college games of the year.
"BC is an extremely tough team to play," Thompson said, "because of the style they play. They scrap, and everybody feels sorry for them and says, 'BC is so small and not talented.' "
Thompson's point was that the Eagles might be small, but they certainly are not without talent. BC, with a center of 6 feet 9 and forwards of 6-4 and 6-5, went full steam right at 7-foot Ewing, with decent success. Ewing had 15 points and 11 rebounds, but he missed five crucial minutes after committing his fourth foul with 12:33 left in the game.
"They may not match up well in height, but they match up well in quickness," Georgetown guard Michael Jackson said. "It's hard for somebody 7 feet to guard somebody 6-5 and quick."
Pressley, from Mackin High, scored 19 points and most of them came on drives to the basket. But the one time he didn't shoot produced one of the game's biggest plays.
BC had rallied from a four-point deficit to tie at 74 on forward Roger McCready's fabulous base-line layup that he scored by going around, then underneath Ewing. The game went into overtime tied at 74 when Georgetown's Jackson missed a jumper with one second left.
The Eagles trailed again by four in overtime. But Adams, BC's 5-foot-10, take-no-stuff-off-nobody point guard, made a 23-foot jumper to bring the Eagles within 82-80 with 46 seconds remaining.
First, Ewing tried to dribble the ball in the middle of the court and had it stripped by McCready and Barry with 31 seconds left. BC called time, and got just the play Coach Gary Williams wanted.
Pressley cruised down the lane, and he saw Barry standing left of the lane, about six feet from the basket. "And nobody was really on him," Pressley said.
"I saw Reggie come up and I started to go up with the shot," Pressley said. "I could have made it, but Skip was there, so I tried to go underneath (Reggie's arm) to Barry. It was a bad play on my part."
Gary Williams didn't think so. "Dominic did what we wanted," he said. "Reggie made a great play and stole the ball. A great steal."
"In practice, we stressed knowing where BC's shooters are," Reggie Williams said. "Dominic is not a good outside shooter. So I anticipated him driving. And when he pulled up, I figured he would try to pass off."
The game never would have been so close if Georgetown had made more than 20 of its 34 foul shots. Thompson called it, "typical Georgetown this time of the year; maybe we've got to be playing in the (NCAA) tournament to make free throws."
Adams' off-balance miss with nine seconds left made the Hoyas' foul shooting deficiency a moot point, at least for now. Some people might have questioned Adams' decision to drive in, rather than take the straight-up jumper.
"The best thing in that situation is to penetrate," Adams said. "That's what I wanted to do. I hoped (David) Wingate would get closer to me, but he didn't and the shot didn't drop."
Even so, Adams said, "We did everything we could." The Eagles, despite their height disadvantage, were outrebounded only by 43-41. They made one fewer turnover (15-16), and took the No. 1 team into overtime even though Pressley and 6-9 center Trevor Gordon had fouled out.
The Hoyas had their foul difficulties, too. Ewing and Martin both had four fouls, forcing the Hoyas to be more conservative than usual on defense.
"We had to," Thompson said, "because with both of them having four fouls it chased us into soft-zone pressure as opposed to hard-zone pressure."
Thompson did something else he rarely does. After the Eagles had tied the game with 33 seconds left in regulation, he called time with 17 seconds left to set up the final play.
"Remember the championship game against North Carolina two years ago?" he asked. "Everybody speculated whether we should have called time out. I don't like to call time out because you can't predict defenses.
"I did it this time because I took a quick look and we looked a little disoriented, indecisive. This team still doesn't realize the confidence that I have in them.
"After we called time out, I had five shooters in. We wanted the clock to go down to seven seconds, look for Patrick, and, if it wasn't there, then anybody take the shot. Michael's ball went in the basket. It just bounced around and came out."
A lot of BC's success came from the fact that the Eagles were just as tough as the Hoyas.
"It was a matter of retaliation," Pressley said. "I'm from D.C., and you know you're gonna be in for that type of game against them. So if you get an elbow in the face, you'll get the guy back sooner or later."
Pressley, at one point, shook a finger at Reggie Williams. "I never did get him back -- he elbowed me in the face three or four times. I just wanted him to know that I was out there looking for him."
In almost every instance, both teams gave whatever they had. "I hope we can play as hard the rest of the season," Gary Williams said. "I couldn't ask them to play any harder."