EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Same names, different endings. Unlike father, like son.
Twenty-five years later, Georgetown got even.
In an NCAA tournament full of incredible rallies, it was the Hoyas’ turn — against North Carolina, for goodness sakes, the same Tar Heels who won the national title on a Michael Jordan jumper that denied a different Georgetown team led by a coach named Thompson and a player named Ewing a generation ago.
These Hoyas overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half, then ripped off 14 straight points in overtime to stun top-seeded Carolina 96-84 in the East Regional final Sunday for their first trip to the Final Four since 1985.
John Thompson Jr. was the coach then and Patrick Ewing was the franchise. The Hoyas (30-6) did it this time with John Thompson III calling the backdoor plays he learned at Princeton and Patrick Ewing Jr. making key contributions.
“The comparisons to Pop’s teams, much like the talk about Big Pat, Little Pat, Big John, Little John, you guys can do that,” Little John said.
“For us to figure out how to hold on and pull away with a win, against that team is special.”
They were helped by an amazing collapse from Carolina (31-7), which made only one of 23 field goal attempts, including its first 12 in overtime, over a 15-minute span after seemingly having the game in hand.
“This is an extremely disappointing time for our team. It’s not the way you want your season to end,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. “Congratulations to Georgetown and Young John. Young John is like family to me.”
It’s a family like none other in college basketball, the first father-son duo to coach teams into the Final Four, much less at the same school.
When it was over, Thompson shook hands with Williams and everyone else on the North Carolina side, never showing a smile. Tough game, good game, he told them.
“You’ve been complaining about the bus being rickety, but the ride home is going to be good tonight,” his dad told him.
“Isn’t it?” the son said.
After Georgetown’s Jonathan Wallace hit a 3 that tied it at 81 with 31 seconds left in regulation, the Tar Heels had a chance to win it, but freshman Wayne Ellington missed an open jumper from the wing right before the buzzer and Ewing grabbed the rebound, prompting his famous father to high-five everyone near him in the stands.
There would be no game-winning shot for the Tar Heels a la 1982, when the Jordan legend was born with a 17-foot jumper with 17 seconds left, lifting Carolina over Georgetown 63-62 for the national championship.
The Hoyas waited a long time to avenge that defeat, and when they did, it unleased a celebration a quarter of a century in the making.
Every Georgetown player crossed the court to hug the elder Thompson, who did the national radio broadcast.
“You want the best for your kids. I’m proud of both John and my son,” Ewing said. “I’m happy, I’m very proud. I think Georgetown is back.”
The Hoyas will play Ohio State (34-3) in the national semifinals next Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. UCLA takes on defending champion Florida in the other game.
While the Hoyas celebrated, Williams could only sit in disbelief. In overtime, it was over in a hurry.
Wallace scored inside, freshman DaJuan Summers dunked a minute later, and Jeff Green added a layup to make it 87-81. With Carolina rushing bad shots, Georgetown jammed it inside and got fouled — Summers made four free throws and Jessie Sapp added a pair.
Summers’ dunk extended the lead to 95-81 before Ty Lawson broke the streak with a meaningless 3 in the closing seconds and Sapp finished it off with one last free throw.
“We just tried to get an early start on it,” Green said. “If we let them get an early start, they would have had the momentum coming in. We got lucky.”
The Tar Heels, the 2005 champions, had won seven straight regional finals and were trying to reach their 17th Final Four, which would’ve tied UCLA’s record.
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