For 2 minutes 42 seconds, after Boston College had closed within a point, Patrick Ewing showed why he might be the best player in college basketball.
In that stretch, Ewing blocked six consecutive shots. The Eagles couldn't even get the ball to the rim, and Boston Garden grew about as quiet as it ever will. Ewing blocked a career-high 10 shots for the game, nine in the second half, and helped the second-ranked Hoyas to a 78-68 Big East victory.
It was the final homecoming as a collegian for Ewing, who played high school ball four miles from here in Cambridge. Ewing nearly had gotten into a fight early in the game with Boston College's Trevor Gordon, but collected himself thereafter and terrorized the Eagles.
"I haven't had a bad game in this building yet, going back to high school, so it must mean something," Ewing said.
Ewing's defense, combined with the Hoyas' new fast-breaking offense, made them unstoppable at times. "The first half, Georgetown's offense was all transition game," Gordon said. Boston College Coach Gary Williams added, "Georgetown is really a different team now; they caught us on our heels at the start and not many teams can do that to us."
The Eagles (16-6, 5-6 in the Big East) got a game-high 21 points from 5-foot-10 guard Michael Adams, who had the key to scoring against Georgetown: don't bring the ball inside.
David Wingate led Georgetown (21-2, 8-2) with 18 points. Reggie Williams had 17 and Bill Martin 14. Most of Georgetown's total came in a high-speed, highly efficient transition offense that committed only 16 turnovers after having made 51 the previous two games.
"It's coming," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said. "It's a gamble, but it may be starting to pay off for us. It scares me, though, because we're really flying."
Ewing's offense was negligible; he made only two field goals in eight shots and scored nine points. That hardly mattered, compared to the points he prevented and the psychological damage done with his blocked shots.
"Ewing had help," Gordon said, "so first you had to just get the ball up over your head to shoot, then you had to get it over Ewing."
Gary Williams said, "I hope (Ewing) can't do any better than that. It was good enough. I was worried about the Garden floor; it's old and he kept pounding it with those blocked shots."
Georgetown went into the dressing room at halftime with a 44-38 lead, compliments of Ralph Dalton's tip-in just before the buzzer. The Hoyas extended that lead to 11 points on several occasions, answering Boston College's baskets with fast-break layups and short jumpers by Reggie Williams, Wingate, Martin, Michael Jackson and Horace Broadnax.
Ewing's three-point play made Georgetown's lead 57-46 with 13 minutes to play. A jumper by Broadnax kept it at 11 points. That caused Gary Williams to call time, with 11:50 to play, and his team returned to the floor to play a man-to-man defense. That probably helped the Eagles, but maybe not as much as Ewing getting his fourth foul with 9:18 to play.
Georgetown's plight was further highlighted when Dalton, Ewing's backup at center, was called for his fourth foul 19 seconds later. It didn't take the Eagles long to pull within 61-57.
They did it by going inside to Roger McCready, who finished with 12 points, and Troy Bowers. After Ewing came back in the game, Adams made a free throw to get the Eagles to 67-64, then made a jumper over Ewing to make it 67-66 with 3:56 to play.
That was the last time anything would go over Ewing. Before the Eagles scored again, with only 23 seconds left, Ewing blocked a shot by Gordon, then one by Skip Barry. He blocked McCready inside, knocked one of Stu Primus' shots away, then blocked Dominic Pressley twice.
"Was it surprising? Not to me," Martin said. "In the crucial times of the game, Patrick will be there. It's his personality. It just intensifies at that point."
Ewing's blocks got the Hoyas off to several more fast breaks. Two of those turned into four free throws by Martin, who had been struggling at the line. Martin's fourth foul shot put the Hoyas ahead, 71-66, with 1:51 to play.
"I had been pressing at the foul line," Martin said. "I wasn't hitting and it was more frustrating than a shooting slump from the field. I was hitting 80 percent in practice, then missing two or three straight in crucial parts of the game. Tonight, I just said, 'This is gut-check time. I'm going to hit these.' "
When someone asked Thompson if Martin making his foul shots were the key to Georgetown's victory, he smiled and said, "The crucial plays to me came when Patrick started blocking all those shots.
"It was a very welcome stretch. But it was typical Patrick. I expect him to do that. He will do what he has to do to win. With us running more, he's not going to get as many points any more. But Patrick can still dominate a game."