Unable to recapture the magic of its come-from-behind victory Thursday night in the first round of the Midwest Regional, Georgetown was eliminated from the NCAA basketball tournament today by Michigan State, 80-68.
The main reason the Hoyas' season ended was Michigan State guard Scott Skiles, a 6-foot-1 senior who in the first half made only one of seven shots from the field and scored just six points.
But that changed drastically in the final 20 minutes. The Big Ten player of the year hit six of seven shots in the second half en route to a total of 24 points, and he added three of his five assists for good measure.
In the day's second game, Kansas, the top seed in the region, lived up to its billing for the second straight game, beating Temple, 65-43.
Temple, which struggled to beat Jacksonville on Thursday, was completely overmatched both inside and outside against the Jayhawks, the nation's No. 2 team. Kansas will play Michigan State in Kansas City, Mo., Friday night in the round of 16.
Skiles was a key to the game's decisive stretch, a spell that took less than three minutes but probably will be remembered by the Hoyas from now until the start of next season.
With 13:43 remaining, Georgetown took a timeout, trailing by 45-40 after a spectacular pass from Skiles set up a fast-break layup. Skiles was in the middle of a three-on-one fast break when he moved the ball behind his back from his left hand to his right, then threw it across his body and hit the streaking Larry Polec for a layup that sent the crowd of 13,260 into a frenzy.
More important, it gave the Spartans a five-point lead. After taking a timeout to regroup, Georgetown suffered more frustration. Michael Jackson missed a jump shot but forced Polec into a turnover after the rebound. A short time later, David Wingate missed; Ralph Dalton got the rebound but was tied up for a jump ball.
The possession arrow pointed in the Hoyas' direction. After inbounding the ball, Dalton missed a layup in heavy traffic. Skiles retrieved it and threw a length-of-the-floor pass that seemed headed out of bounds. Michigan State guard Darryl Johnson made an attempt at saving the ball at the base line but threw it right into the hands of Georgetown's Ronnie Highsmith, who dropped it over the end line.
The frustration didn't end there for the Hoyas. Seconds later, Skiles hit a jumper from 25 feet, then rebounded a miss by Horace Broadnax. At the 11:36 mark, Barry Fordham just beat the 45-second clock with a short jumper before Wingate sank two free throws. Skiles fed Polec for another basket less than a minute later, and the Spartans' Johnson intercepted the subsequent inbounds pass and eventually scored, giving his team a 53-42 lead with 10:21 to play. From there, Georgetown came no closer than seven points.
"I didn't think that was the turning point, though," said Skiles. "I felt from the tip that we would win, and we controlled the game the whole time. We gave them due respect, but not too much."
That was evident throughout the game. Skiles, who kept up a running verbal battle with members of the Washington Huskies during the Spartans' 72-70 first-round victory Thursday, was a model of decorum today. He always kept his cool, even when he was spilled to the floor a number of times in the closing minutes of the game.
Skiles hit 10 of 11 from the free-throw line; his equally cool teammates made 18 of 21. In the last seven minutes of the game, the Spartans hit 15 of 16 free throws.
Georgetown, led by Wingate's 17 points along with 15 from Reggie Williams, was equally cool. But that wasn't enough this day.
"To win today, we needed to play our best," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson. "With Patrick Ewing , we didn't always need to play our best to win. This team did."
Much of the wind was taken out of the Hoyas' sails when Williams got into foul trouble. The junior forward began the game with some torrid shooting from the field, hitting his first three shots and four of six in the first half.
With the score tied at 24 with 4:13 left in the half, Williams was whistled for his third personal and got his fourth with 14:28 left. After his third foul, Williams made two of seven from the field and had to play cautiously. The rest of the Hoyas seemed to follow his lead.
"I didn't think I fouled five times," said Williams. "Honestly, maybe twice. But there were no excuses there. Today they were just a better team than us."
With the Hoyas trailing, 32-30, at halftime, Highsmith got the first basket of the second half to tie the game, but then the Skiles show began. The guard made his first three shots. Then, after a basket by Johnson, Skiles scored, assisted on a basket and scored again.
"That was just routine for him," said Polec. "Like that pass; I knew I would get the ball, I just didn't know how."
Wingate was on Skiles nearly the entire game. "He came out looking to score in the second half," said the senior guard. "People started setting picks for him and he was hitting the jumpers. I commend him for reading our defenses well."
Even so, Wingate said he felt his team still had a shot at pulling the game out in the final five minutes. By that time, the Hoyas trailed by 61-53 after a layup by Perry McDonald.
Then it was the Spartans' turn to take a timeout to compose themselves, and it worked much better for them than for Georgetown. Seven seconds after the break, Vernon Carr made two free throws. Shortly after McDonald missed the first of a one-and-one, Skiles hit another two from the line to make the score 65-53 and effectively end the Hoyas' season at 24-8.
The Midwest hasn't been kind to Georgetown. The last time the team was assigned to the region, in 1983, it also lost in the second round, 66-57, to Keith Lee and Memphis State in a game played in Lexington, Ky. The Hoyas won the national title in 1984 and were runners-up to Villanova in 1985.
"The past four years I've been working overtime," said Thompson. "This year it looks like I get an early vacation, but it isn't necessarily welcomed."
In the second game, Kansas (33-3) was led by forwards Danny Manning and Ron Kellogg and guard Calvin Thompson, each of whom had 14 points in beating Temple (25-6).