Georgetown’s Jeff Green dunks during the NCAA East Regional final against North Carolina on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.AP photo
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Twenty-five years later, Georgetown got even for a coach named Thompson and a player named Ewing.
The Hoyas overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half, then ripped off 14 straight points in overtime to stun top-seeded North Carolina 96-84 in the East Regional final Sunday for their first trip to the Final Four since 1985, when the coach was John Thompson Jr. and the star was Patrick Ewing.
The Hoyas (30-6) did it this time with coach John Thompson III calling the backdoor plays he learned at Princeton and Patrick Ewing Jr. making key contributions.
“You want the best for your kids. I’m proud of both John and my son,” Ewing Sr. said. “I’m happy, I’m very proud. I think Georgetown is back.”
They were helped by an amazing collapse from the Tar Heels (31-7), who made only one of 23 field goal attempts, including its first 12 in overtime, over a 15-minute span.
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 pop to high-five everyone near him in the stands.
There would be no game-winning shot for the Tar Heels a la 1982, when freshman Michael Jordan’s 17-foot jumper with 17 seconds left lifted Carolina over Georgetown 63-62 for the national championship.
The Hoyas waited a long time to avenge that defeat. When they did, they celebrated. The Thompsons became the first father-son duo to reach the Final Four, much less at the same school, and they enjoyed a huge embrace at courtside.
“You’ve been complaining about the bus being rickety, but the ride home is going to be good tonight,” Thompson the father told his son.
“Isn’t it?” Thompson the son said.
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.
When this one ended, every Georgetown player crossed the court to hug the elder Thompson, who did the national radio broadcast.
Later, the old coach squeezed Ewing Sr. He also pulled out his cell phone, to no avail.
“Yeah, I tried to call Michael, but he wasn’t accepting any of my calls,” Big John said.
While the Hoyas celebrated, Carolina coach Roy Williams could only sit in disbelief. Tied at 81, he watched Georgetown score the first 14 points in overtime before Ty Lawson hit a meaningless 3 in the closing seconds.
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.
After overcoming a 16-point deficit in the second half to beat Southern California on Friday night, they seemed to be on their way this time, too, leading 69-58 with 12:22 to go and still up 75-65 with 6:02 to play.
That’s when Georgetown took over. A foul shot by Jeff Green, a layup by Jessie Sapp, another layup by Green and a dunk by 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert, and it was 75-72 — and a game again.
At the same time, the Hoyas did an even better job on defense, with an active zone that flummoxed Carolina, and once it went to overtime, it was a bad omen for the Tar Heels. They have now lost seven straight games in overtime since 2000.
Green led Georgetown with 22 points and freshman DaJuan Summers added 20.
Tyler Hansbrough had 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels.
“They have some tough players, and down the stretch they hit shots and we didn’t,” Hansbrough said through red, swollen eyes.
• Georgetown vs. Ohio State
6:07 p.m. Saturday in Atlanta
• UCLA vs. Florida
8:47 p.m. Saturday in Atlanta