Supposedly the truly special moments in sports can never be recreated. And surely it would be foolish to even hope that Georgetown and Villanova could sustain a level of competitive excellence that would challenge last year's national championship game won by Villanova in Lexington, Ky.
Today, however, the Hoyas and Wildcats assaulted all sensibility by playing one of the best games in the history of the Big East, one that lasted through maybe a dozen memorable plays and two overtimes before Villanova almost inexplicably prevailed again, this time by a score of 90-88 in the Spectrum.
Villanova guard Harold Jensen, who hit the winning shot in the Wildcats' 66-64 victory last March, dropped the bomb on ninth-ranked Georgetown again today. With three seconds left in the second overtime, his 23-footer provided the winning points to end the drama, played before 17,764 and a national television audience.
Again, Georgetown (19-5, 9-4 in the Big East) had to settle for knowing it left the court having tried almost everything possible to win.
"This was so much like last year's game," Jensen said. "There are a lot of faces missing. But it was still so fierce."
There is no better word than fierce for the play of Villanova's 6-foot-7 senior Harold Pressley, who made 14 of 17 shots, scored 34 points, blocked eight shots (four against a Georgetown man four inches taller), grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds, made five steals and had three assists.
That more than offset the brilliance of the Hoyas' Reggie Williams, who had 26 points and 12 rebounds, and Ralph Dalton, with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Certainly, the Hoyas were hurt by the loss of senior point guard Michael Jackson, who fouled out with 1:25 left in regulation.
His replacement, freshman Charles Smith, missed the front end of bonus foul shooting sets twice in the final 51 seconds when it appeared the defending champion Wildcats (18-11, 8-5) wouldn't have enough time to make up a four-point deficit.
How much did the Hoyas miss Jackson? He had made all five of his shots from the field, both from the line and had five assists.
"You lose a lot of experience when you have to take out a senior and put a freshman in," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said.
Jackson's departure was just one of the memories the teams will replay. There was Pressley, flat on the floor, stealing the ball from Smith and somehow flicking it to Dwight Wilbur for the layup that tied the game, 71-71, with 13 seconds left in regulation.
There was David Wingate's jumper with one second left in regulation that would have given the Hoyas victory, but slipped off the rim.
There was Georgetown scoring three straight baskets to start the first overtime with a 77-71 lead. Even Pressley had to admit, "That was a scary position to be in. But they were just shooting the heck out of the ball."
Moments later, there was a missed layup by Wingate that could have rebuilt the Georgetown lead to 79-73. "I was just hoping to make the layup and get a three-point play opportunity," Wingate said.
There was senior Horace Broadnax missing the front end of a one-and-one with 2:13 left in the first overtime that allowed Pressley to come back and tie the game on a jumper.
There was Williams giving Georgetown an 81-79 lead with 20 seconds left in the first overtime, and Villanova freshman Doug West coming back to hit the jumper with six seconds left that sent the game into the second extra period.
It wasn't until Pressley -- who had 26 of his points after halftime -- scored a three-point play midway through Overtime II, that Villanova got the lead for good, 84-83.
That in itself was quite a feat, considering Georgetown seemed in command, with a 68-59 lead with 3:45 left in regulation, 15 seconds before Pressley scored a three-point play that started the Villanova comeback. "Perseverance, I guess," said Villanova Coach Rollie Massimino, who was sick with the flu and had to leave practice Friday, and probably should have been in bed today.
Even with all the missed foul shots Georgetown tied the game, 88-88, on Perry McDonald's driving layup with 33 seconds left in what would be the final overtime.
But McDonald missed the foul shot that would have completed the three-point play and put the Hoyas in the lead again.
Georgetown lost to Texas-El Paso and Pittsburgh earlier this season because the Hoyas missed foul shots. Today, ironically, Georgetown made 14 of its first 15 shots from the line.
It was after McDonald's miss that Villanova called time with 25 seconds left and set up a play for Pressley.
The Wildcats would try to work the ball to him down on the low post, the same play that worked successfully and got the Wildcats a last-second victory over Maryland two weeks ago.
"But they were overplaying him so much," Jensen recounted, "that it was smart not to go to him. When Kenny Wilson (the Villanova point guard) penetrated, my man -- I think it was David Wingate -- dropped off me. He had to because Wilson was going to the lane.
"Kenny dished it off to me. I just caught it and shot it."
And the Wildcats hugged each other at midcourt, just as they did last year in Rupp Arena.
They couldn't get enough of hugging Pressley, who blocked Ralph Dalton's shots four times.
"I could tell, even though I was playing, that this was a really special game," Pressley said. "I kept finding myself saying, 'Hey, this is really great.' I almost wish I could have been home watching at home on TV."