Georgetown's opponents shot 39.4 percent from the field in the Hoyas' first five NCAA tournament games this season. Tonight, in the national championship game, Villanova shot double that.
"It was frustrating," said reserve guard Horace Broadnax. "We kept playing defense. We were right in their faces, and they kept hitting and hitting."
Yet, afterward, the Hoyas seemed to take the 66-64 loss at Rupp Arena in stride, just as they had taken last year's national championship victory at the Kingdome in Seattle.
The faces were sad, but there were no tears as the Hoyas accepted watches for being runners-up. Center Patrick Ewing, completing a four-year career in which he led the Hoyas to the championship game three times, walked down the dias with one finger raised after accepting his award. Later, he said, "We might not have won the ball game, but I still think we're No. 1."
As the Hoyas received their awards, various conference and tournament officials offered condolences to Coach John Thompson, who conducted a short interview and then walked directly to the team bus, along with Ewing and forward Billy Martin.
Dave Gavitt, the Big East commissioner, told Thompson his team had nothing to be ashamed of.
Asked what he told Thompson, Dick Schultz, Virginia athletic director and incoming chairman of the men's Division I basketball committee, said: "They've got a lot of class. They know how to win, but they know how to lose, too."
When Thompson, Ewing and Martin went to their press conference, those players remaining in the locker room showered, dressed and left quickly, even though NCAA rules call for the locker room to be open for one hour.
"Please, we've got to get home," said academic coordinator Mary Fenlon, shooing away reporters as Thompson got on the bus.
Those who were in the locker room only had praise for Villanova and disappointment in the loss.
"If you're looking for someone who's sad, you won't find him here," said senior reserve Ralph Dalton. "We had a very successful season. There's nothing to be sad about. Ever since I've been here, Villanova's always played us tough."
Said Thompson: "We're 35-3. Must I dwell on the obvious (a great season). We told them (his players) to play as hard as we can play. We're disappointed. We lost a basketball game. I don't want them to hang their heads, or go around and cry and make a lot of excuses. We know how to win, and we know how to lose. We don't want it (losing) to become a habit."
The players kept praising Villanova.
"They shot a tremendous percentage from the field," said forward David Wingate. "With our pressure, they kept their composure. We played extremely hard and well. It was just that Villanova didn't make that many mistakes and shot a phenomenal percentage."
Said Broadnax: "It was a different Villanova team than the ones we played in the past. They handled the pressure well."
If there was a major factor in the game for Georgetown, other than Villanova's uncanny accuracy, it was Reggie Williams failing to score in the second half after getting 10 points in the first half.
Williams played only 10 minutes in the second half as Thompson used point guards Michael Jackson and Broadnax at the same time.
"It was our (defensive rotation) more than anything else," Thompson said.
"We tried to put on more pressure to get them up tight," Jackson said. "With a team like Villanova, which plays at a high level of emotion, you can never think they can be put away. We felt we had them with four minutes left in the first half.
"Then we let it slip away."
Jackson also said the lack of a 45-second clock was a factor in the outcome of the game.
"The difference was the clock was out," Jackson said. "Without the clock, they're a different team, but so are we. They did what they had to do. We played a tremendous game. I think if we played them again, it would be different."
Even Georgetown's administrators were fairly upbeat afterward.
"Their shooting is what beat us," said William Stott, vice president of student affairs. "They had to play a perfect game, and they did."