Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Hoyas Capture First NCAA Title

When John Thompson uttered these words two short years ago in a reception in a New Orleans Marriott, few believed that it would happen so soon. The doubters were many, and vocal in their criticism of Thomson’s failure to call timeout in the final 15 seconds of the North Carolina game. A game that ended with a Freddie Brown pass to James Worthy.

But Monday night in another dome Thompson silenced critics. There was another hug between Brown and Thompson, this one an embrace of victory. Because Monday, Georgetown established its place among the elite few by defeating the University of Houston, 84-75, to win their first national championship.

It was a triumph for depth and desire, teamwork and hard work, domination and intimidation.

“They do everything a great team should do,” said Akeem Olajuwon, disconsolate after losing in a third straight Final Four. “They don’t care who takes the shots, who scores. That’s the difference. They aren’t a selfish team.”

It was not only the unselfish team that won but the deepest and most hungry. Georgetown won without the presence of senior Co-captain Gene Smith, the Hoya resident defensive catalyst and their heart and soul. But no matter, Georgetown can come at you in waves, a seemingly endless variety of talent and desire.

The key plays came from two freshmen, Reggie Williams and ichael Graham. Williams came off the bench to score 19 points and grab seven rebounds, 13 of those points coming in a second half where on a number of occasions Houston fought to within five points of the Hoyas. But perhaps the key play made by Williams was a defensive gem, tying up Olajuwon inside and forcing a jump ball when the game was still on the line, 74-63 just over two minutes left.

Graham, the emotional, aggressive power forward, contributed 14 points and five rebounds, the majority of those points coming on a variety of “Grahama Slamma Jama” in-your-face dunks. But it was as much his emotion as his play on the court that got the Hoyas going, especially in the absence of Smith.

And then there was Ewing, named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Although his statistics were not outstanding, (10 points, nine rebounds, four blocks, three assists), there is little argument that his value goes beyond statistics. Ewing held Olajuwon in check, limiting him to only nine shots while rejecting four and altering numerous other Cougar attempts.

One play seemed to have symbolized the first of what promises to be many duels between two great players. The game was still young, tied at 16 after Houston had built up an early 14-6 lead. Olajuwon had pulled down an offensive rebound and pumpfaked about three feet from the basket. Ewing never flinched, and as Olajuwon rose so did Ewing. Olajuwon’s shot missed, and Akeem stood there in disbelief as the others ran down the court. Only one play, but it was then that Houston seemed to sense the inevitable.

Georgetown then took the lead for the first time, 18-16 with 55 seconds remaining in the half. It was a lead they would never relinquish.

The Hoyas ran off a 14-6 spurt capped by a Bill Martin 11-footer in the lane, and the Georgetown lead was 10, 32-22. Houston battled back with six straight points, but a jumper by Michael Jackson (11 points, six assists) and two layups by David Wingate (16 points) restored the lead to 10, 40-39 at the half.

The celebrating began in the stands, if not on the court. There were only 20 minutes left, but more than one fan was heard complaining that they were the longest twenty minutes of his life.

The half started on a promising note for the Hoyas, as Olajuwon picked up his fourth foul only 23 seconds into the second half. The Hoyas immediately went straight at the big man, and two easy baskets was enough to convince Guy Lewis to send Olajuwon to the bench. This should have been the ballgame, but someone forgot to tell Alvin Franklin.

During the next nine minutes Franklin scored 14 points, the majority coming on double-pump jumpers in the lane after driving right and spinning left. After hitting two foul shots with 10:29 remaining, it was 57-54.

It was time to separate the men from the boys.

Williams, a mere freshman who has struggled adjusting to life coming off the bench, took over. He rebounded his own miss and scored, then only moments later fed Graham for a thunderous dunk. It was 61-54, and Georgetown was in control.

“They were in control for the most part,” said Coach Guy Lewis. “We got up early but they were in control from then on.”

Houston fought back gamely, but it was over after Williams tied Olajuwon up with 2:22 remaining. Georgetown had the lead, 74-68, and the ball on the alternate possession rule.

All that remained for the Hoyas was to run the spread offense they had been using so effectively since the 12-minute mark of the first half and hit their free throws.

And that they did. Jackson, the superlative point guard unjustly left off the all-tournament team, Williams, Wingate, and Brown ran it to perfection and the Cougars simply ran out of gas.

Then the celebration began. David Wingate was at the line in the last minute, and the emotions flowed. The championship was Georgetown’s.

It’s a fabulous feeling, we’re elated to win the national championship,” said Thompson, who later said that he was just glad to win one title and that he didn’t want 10 like John Wooden. If things hold true to form, we may find out next year how he feels about winning two.

Editor’s Note: Jeff Scharpf is a 1984 graduate of the Georgetown School of Business and a former sports editor of THE HOYA. This story originally ran on Friday, April 6, 1984.

More to Discover