With 18 minutes to play and Boston College ahead of Georgetown by 12 points, many of the 14,218 fans in Boston Garden became quite excited in anticipation of an upset. But Eagles Coach Gary Williams looked up at the scoreboard and knew the margin his team held meant little, if anything.
"It's like the score wasn't even on the board," Williams said. "When we were leading, 42-30, I think it actually picked up their game. From then on they only played better."
The 12th-ranked Hoyas got two steals and three crucial jump shots from Horace Broadnax as Georgetown rallied to a 73-66 victory tonight.
Broadnax, a senior guard, was one of three Hoyas to score 14 points, along with guard Michael Jackson and center Ralph Dalton.
But Broadnax's performance was important because the team's two leading scorers, Reggie Williams and Michael Jackson, were on the bench much of the game with foul trouble.
The Eagles (11-7, 2-5) seemed to be in pretty good shape early in the second half, holding a double-digit lead and with Williams and Wingate on the bench.
"You would think so," Williams said. "But sometimes, another guy rises to the occassion. Broadnax did a great job, no question."
The Hoyas had gotten long jumpers from Michael Jackson and Jaren Jackson, plus a hook shot from Williams, and a three-point play from Dalton to cut BC's lead to 47-45 over a period of five minutes.
The Hoyas, at Coach John Thompson's insistence, worked patiently, not trying to get the points back all at once, and kept playing good defense. BC's 5-foot-9 point guard Dana Barros scored a jumper to make it 50-47, Eagles, with 10:50 left in game, but BC didn't score another field goal for six minutes and 40 seconds.
Meanwhile, Broadnax started his run of big plays.
After two free throws by Perry McDonald got the Hoyas (15-3, 6-2) within 52-51, Broadnax stole the ball from BC's 6-9 center/forward Troy Bowers who was looking to post-up near the basket.
Broadnax worked the ball to Michael Jackson, who hit the layup that gave Georgetown the lead for good, 53-52, with 8:44 left.
His next play hurt the Eagles even more.
BC's Jamie Benton tried to get a pass inside to Roger McCready, who scored a game-high 20 points for the Eagles. But Broadnax stepped up and stole that pass.
The possession ended with Williams grabbing an offensive rebound and laying the ball back in for a 55-52 Georgetown lead.
Boston College later closed to 56-54 on two free throws by McCready. But Broadnax hit three consecutive jumpers, all from outside, to give the Hoyas a 62-56 cushion with just under four minutes to play.
"Horace made big shots," Thompson said.
Dalton, who had eight rebounds to go with his 14 points, said, "Horace always plays tough, but a lot of times he does the intangibles. Tonight, he was more visible."
Broadnax, whose playing time had decreased recently with Thompson's new emphasis on an improved inside game, knew he hadn't played especially well of late.
"I hadn't been playing like a senior," he said. "I'd been playing like a sophomore or junior. I hit that first one, and I said, 'Hey, it's time to put the ball up.' "
Putting the ball up got Georgetown the points, but playing better defense got the Hoyas back in the game.
Georgetown couldn't press because Wingate, Williams and Michael Jackson got in foul trouble so early. "It forced us out of our pressure defense," Thompson said. "Fouls dictated the course of the game."
The thing that makes the Hoyas so good, however, is that they can play disruptive defense even when they aren't pressing.
"We got very few fast break opportunities after that 12-point lead," Gary Williams said. "If you can't score, you can't keep your press up. You've got to do everything right against Georgetown."
For the early minutes of the second half, BC appeared to do everthying right and Georgetown looked flat, partly because of the foul trouble, partly because the Eagles are a particularly troublesome team.
McCready, even though he is only 6-5, kept getting the ball on the low post and turning to shoot over players such as 6-11 Dalton, 6-8 Johnathan Edwards or 6-10 Grady Mateen. McCready also kept making trips to the foul line (12 shots in 17 attempts).
But the Hoyas shut off the other BC threats and came away with a good road victory.
"Boston Garden is a very hard place to play," Dalton said. "Earlier in the day, I told the guys that the seniors would never play here again. And we wanted it really badly."
The Hoyas are scheduled to play Louisiana State, Feb. 2 in Capital Centre. But there are reports the game might be in jeopardy because some LSU players are quarantined for two weeks with chicken pox. One LSU game already has been called off.