Billy Martin smiled a tired smile and plopped back into his seat. "Every week, every single week," Martin said. "Every game, everybody. Everybody gets to take a shot, and it'll be that way the rest of the season."
Today, with a sellout crowd of 18,202 at the Spectrum going wild, Villanova took its shot, and it was a pretty good one. For the second straight Saturday, Georgetown had to fend off a Big East opponent in overtime. This time, the top-ranked Hoyas remained undefeated with a 52-50 victory -- Georgetown's 26th straight -- that wasn't assured until Villanova's Dwayne McClain missed a desperation shot with one second left.
Nothing was pretty about this game. The Wildcats shot 31 percent, Georgetown 43.5. The game was tough, like a walk through South Philly. But as Georgetown Coach John Thompson said afterward, "As I tell the kids, it's not the form, but the effort."
The effort appeared about equal on both sides. But Georgetown, now 15-0 (4-0 in the Big East) for the season, won because the Hoyas played better for the last five minutes.
Michael Jackson scored a jumper to start overtime, putting Georgetown ahead, 45-43. And Villanova was left in the uncomfortable position of having to play catchup against the nation's best defensive team.
David Wingate, who led Georgetown with 11 points, scored the free throws with 12 seconds left that gave the Hoyas a 51-48 lead and actually provided their winning points. But there would be two more heart-stopping moments for everyone here and a national television audience.
During a timeout called by Villanova with eight seconds left, Thompson told his players not to foul and to risk the possibility of a three-point play.
Villanova's McClain, who led his team with 18 points, drove to the basket, and collided with Georgetown's Reggie Williams. The officials' hand immediately went up to signal the foul on Williams, and the ball kept bounding around on the rim.
"Nine out of 10 times, that thing falls in," McClain said. This time, it fell out. The Wildcats could not tie the game on the three-point play. McClain made both free throws, with six seconds remaining, but that still left Villanova behind, 51-50.
Thompson was asked afterward how he felt about Williams' foul. "I felt terrible," Thompson said. "I just asked Reggie about the play and he said, 'He got in my way, coach.' "
Still trailing, Villanova was forced to foul. Ralph Dalton made the first of two free throws with five seconds left, but missed the second. Villanova rebounded the miss, but a long pass to McClain was tipped out of bounds by Ewing with one second left.
McClain's desperation shot from the side, from about 20 feet, came before the buzzer but was nowhere close to the basket. "Those five seconds went awfully, awfully fast," Villanova Coach Rollie Massimino said.
The Wildcats (9-3, 2-2) had a chance to win the game in regulation after Jackson was called for traveling with three seconds remaining. But McClain's long jumper came after the buzzer and was no good, anyway.
"What broke down? The guy on the clock broke down," Massimino said. "Those were the fastest three seconds I've ever seen."
Massimino was critical of the timekeeping, but he appreciated the level of play. "That was an extremely, extremely good basketball game," he said.
Georgetown is aware that many of the teams left on its schedule are capable of providing this type of competition. The Hoyas have already had two overtime games, and haven't even played St. John's and Syracuse -- both of which are ranked in the top 10.
"Welcome to the Big East," Thompson said.
Villanova opened the game with an 11-2 lead that grew to 17-7 as Ed Pinckney blocked a turnaround jumper by Ewing and Georgetown missed 10 of its first 11 shots.
Eight minutes into the game, trailing by nine, Thompson inserted freshmen Grady Mateen and Perry McDonald into the lineup. Mateen hit a jumper from the foul line to keep the Hoyas within 17-9.
Mateen and McDonald each scored a pair of free throws moments later to bring Georgetown within 19-15, and Ewing hit for two of his 10 points to cut Villanova's lead to 19-17. But the Wildcats, with Dwayne McClain and point guard Gary McClain on the bench, scored 10 straight points to take a 27-17 lead.
Considering that Georgetown shot only 28 percent that first half, the Hoyas may have been fortunate to have been trailing by only 27-19 at halftime.
Williams and Martin were a combined zero for nine from the field. But Thompson kept encouraging them -- especially Martin -- to shoot. "It's the damndest thing," Thompson said. "I've been conservative for 12 to 13 years. Now I find myself telling people to shoot more." And Martin hit three successive jumpers to tie the game at 36 with 7:34 left in the regulation.
"I was taking good shots," Martin said. "I just didn't have a feel for the ball at the start of the game. If you don't take those shots, you hurt the team more than you help."
The Hoyas, who were holding Villanova scoreless for exactly five minutes, would even take the lead, 40-38, on a hanging layup by David Wingate. But Pinckney made two free throws with 11 seconds left to take the game into overtime, tied at 43.
Pinckney had only two field goals today, and four straight times he couldn't get off a shot when the Wildcats attempted to push the ball inside to him.
Martin said he found Villanova doing to Georgetown "exactly what we do to other people."
And that's what other teams will probably try for the rest of the season. "It's hard," Martin said. "We've got to be up emotionally and physically every night. And since we're not machines, there are going to be some nights when you aren't going to play your best. But if you can still win those games . . . "