Maybe the remaining teams in this NCAA tournament will find hope from what happened here in the Civic Center tonight. Without any real inside game, without anybody over 6 feet 9 to mark 7-foot Patrick Ewing, without much more than some playground savvy and long-distance jumpers, Loyola of Chicago extended the No. 1 team in the nation before losing to Georgetown, 65-53.
The Hoyas had too much Ewing, among other things. But it was anything but decisive. Nevertheless, the top-seeded Hoyas won their 15th straight and advanced to Saturday's East Regional final against Georgia Tech.
Loyola, the favorite of many in tonight's sellout crowd of 11,913, had its 19-game winning streak stopped, giving Georgetown the nation's longest winning streak.
Ewing led all scorers with 21 points on nine-for-15 shooting. Once Loyola had pulled to 46-43, Ewing dunked a teammate's missed shot to give Georgetown (33-2) a five-point lead with just under 10 minutes to play.
Another offensive rebound basket by Ewing made it 52-45. His dunk increased it to 54-47 and a drive down the left side of the lane made it 56-49. Whatever Loyola did, Ewing (14 rebounds) had an answer. The Hoyas looked to him for everything those last 10 minutes.
"Pat brought us here, so why not use him?" point guard Michael Jackson said. Ewing had 14 points and eight rebounds in the second half.
"It's typical," Coach John Thompson said. "We needed him and he surfaced. Pat decided he didn't want to go home today."
Loyola had a chance to pull within three points with three minutes remaining, but Carl Golston's jumper from the top of the key missed. Reggie Williams countered with a layup for the Hoyas, and Georgetown spent the rest of the game sending players to the foul line to make the score lopsided.
Loyola (27-6) stayed close although Alfredrick Hughes, the nation's second-leading scorer, got in early foul trouble and failed to score at least 10 points for the first time in 95 games.
Hughes had his first two shots blocked by Williams. "That always affects a shooter," Georgetown's Bill Martin said.
What affected Hughes just as much, maybe more, was getting three fouls in the first eight minutes. Hughes said he was so conscious of not picking up a fourth foul that he had to abandon his usual aggressive style.
"I think it unnerved him a bit," Loyola Coach Gene Sullivan said. "That was a major factor in the game . . . I just wish you could have seen the real Al Hughes tonight."
Hughes averaged 27 points and nine rebounds a game coming into tonight, but finished this game with only eight points and five rebounds. He missed nine of 13 shots.
"I wish I had given more to my team tonight," Hughes said. "This is the first game in four years I'm really not satisfied with my performance at all. Not at all."
In the end, a big, great defensive team had beaten a small, good offensive team.
Georgetown now is one victory away from its third trip to the Final Four in four years.
The Hoyas still are the tournament favorite, but other teams watching this game must have taken some comfort that a small, scrappy team could play effectively against them.
"They're a great team," Hughes said. "But they're not unbeatable. If I play like I'm capable of, there's no doubt we could have beaten them."
Loyola led at halftime, 28-26. The lead changed 26 times and the game was tied 12 times. "I expected them to be tough," Thompson said. "They gave us a lot of difficulty."
Where Loyola did not give Georgetown enough difficulty was on the boards. Georgetown's advantage in rebounding was only 19-16 at halftime. But the Hoyas outrebounded the Ramblers, 44-31, for the game.
Of Georgetown's total, 15 were on offense. "We didn't have any problem with their pressure defense," Sulllivan said (because of Golston's poised ball handling). "Our trouble all night was giving up second shots. They'd miss and get another shot, miss and get another shot."
Ewing, of course, was getting a lot of those second and third shots. "I guess it's like Coach Thompson said," Ewing said. "I didn't want to go home yet."
Loyola was led in scoring by 6-9 center Andre Moore, who made eight of 13 shots and finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. Only Andre Battle, who averages 21 points a game, finished with Moore in double figures. But Battle scored only 10 points and missed eight of 13 shots.
The Ramblers felt they could win if they shot 55 percent. As it turned out, they made 38 percent.
But Loyola kept it close with several outstanding defensive plays at important times. Golston, 5-9, had four of his team's nine steals.
One of Battle's three steals led to Golston's jumper that put Loyola ahead, 22-18, early in the game.
"We had to be on our toes every second," said Williams. "You could never say, 'I'm not going to get back this time,' because if you didn't, a shot went right up or somebody stuck a hand in the way of a pass."
Georgetown benefited from several questionable foul calls tonight. The Hoyas made 13 of 21 foul shots; Loyola made three of four.
Battle wasn't about to get down on himself or his teammates about losing tonight. Loyola's dream of being Cinderella might have ended, but as Battle said, "It took Georgetown to get us out of the tournament. Even though we didn't accomplish everything we wanted, we're proud of what we did do."