With only a couple of minutes left in the game, Patrick Ewing came to the Georgetown bench for the last time tonight, and the partisan fans in Byrne Arena gave him a respectful standing ovation.
That wasn't appreciation enough. Seton Hall started a 6-foot-5 center and Georgetown employed the most logical of strategies; throw the ball inside to its 7-foot all-America. Ewing made 15 of 17 shots and scored a season-high 33 points to lead the top-ranked Hoyas to a 90-70 Big East victory over Seton Hall before 12,171.
The only two times he missed, he got the rebound and scored anyway. And most of the shots he made weren't dunks. One basket, early in the first half -- when he made eight of eight -- came from 14 feet. Another, with four minutes left, was a soft, finger roll.
It was such a dominant performance -- even for college basketball's most dominant player -- that the hometown fans began begging for mercy. "Please, Mr. Ewing, go easy on us," an entire section of people kept asking.
He started his scoring spree against 6-5 Ricky Burton, who started in place of 6-9 freshman Mark Bryant, who was recovering from a sprained neck. Bryant would get his minutes, too, off the bench. But it didn't matter.
The Hoyas (14-0) held the Big East's leading scorer -- Andre McCloud -- without a field goal the first 25 minutes. McCloud, from H.D. Woodson High School in the District, came in averaging 20.4 points. But he didn't shoot in the first half tonight and finished with two field goals in nine shots. Of his team-high 16 points, 12 came from the foul line.
But the talk tonight was of Ewing, who didn't know the details 20 minutes afterward in the locker room. When informed of the numbers, he looked up, half in disbelief and said, "Oh yeah? Well, some nights it just goes like that, I guess."
Burton, who started the evening guarding Ewing, said, "I never thought I'd ever have to guard Patrick Ewing, man to man. I knew he was strong, but he's very, very strong. With his butt alone, he can move you out of the lane and get position. And you know, it wasn't all dunks. He took a spin down the base line once that impressed me. And when he shoots from 10 feet and in, it's automatic."
His performance was so overwhelming, it was easy to overlook David Wingate making six of 11 shots and scoring 15 points, and Reggie Williams making four of five from the field. The Hoyas shot 61 percent from the field, and it really didn't matter at all that leading scorer Bill Martin, who averages 15 points, didn't score.
Georgetown got about all the offensive production it needed from 7-foot Ewing, 6-11 Ralph Dalton and 6-10 Grady Mateen. Dalton's seven points and Mateen's six gave Georgetown's three tallest players a total of 46 points.
"The idea was to get the ball inside, whether it was Patrick, Grady or myself," Dalton said. "They're tough and stong inside, but they are smaller. And Bryant (because he was hurt) wasn't moving as well as he usually does. And Patrick was taking that drop step and scoring."
Just about any move Ewing made, he wound up scoring. A quick check of the available Georgetown box scores showed this was only the third time in Ewing's career that he had scored 30 points or more. His total tonight -- in only 30 minutes -- was only two points lower than his career high of 35 two years ago against Southern University.
Seton Hall Coach P.J. Carlesimo said before this game he wanted his front line players to stay close and keep the Georgetown front court from running away with the game.
"We played hard, and we got a lot of offensive rebounds," Carlesimo said. "But obviously, we were not able to do anything with Patrick inside."
Ewing set the tone for the game immediately. He scored seven quick points, including a three-point play less than three minutes into the game, to give Georgetown a 9-4 lead. He rebounded Horace Broadnax' miss and scored for a 21-14 lead, then made the 14-foot jumper for 23-14.
Seton Hall (9-5, 0-5) kept committing turnovers, and Georgetown kept getting Ewing the ball. Nothing complicated. The Hoyas led, 40-26, at halftime as Ewing had 17 points. From there, Georgetown extended and held its lead to win its 25th straight and third straight in the Big East.
The surprising thing, Georgetown Coach John Thompson said, is that people seemed so surprised that Ewing is capable of such an outburst.
"We did what we had to do tonight," Thompson said. "The situation dictated that we could. They spread out and were chasing us . . . It never ceases to amaze me how people question Patrick's shooting; he's an excellent shooter."
Burton wasn't about to disagree with that. "Quite an experience," he said. "My family taped the game, I think. Years from now I'll tell my son, 'Watch, I guarded Patrick Ewing and he's a great player in the pros.'"