Georgetown had insisted, throughout the grind of three tough games in three days, that fatigue would not be an issue. The only exception was that the Hoyas were maybe a little tired of talking about it. In any case, what set them apart Friday night was that they appear to be getting stronger every day.
They were strong enough to do what seemed impossible: keep Marquette from making it close. The Hoyas had enough energy to make it look easy in an 80-57 Big East Tournament semifinal victory at the Garden. They weren't even the least bit winded after having knocked off the top dog, Syracuse, on Thursday.
"It's March," said coach John Thompson III, whose team will face West Virginia in the final. "There's no time to take a breath and pat yourself on the back in March. Your next opponent is very good. Your next opponent is well-coached. Your next opponent is trying to kick your behind."
Marquette (22-11) did try for a while but fell way short, especially in containing 6-11 sophomore Greg Monroe, who had 23 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. "They absolutely annihilated us inside," said Marquette coach Buzz Williams, whose team had not lost by more than nine points this season. "We got beat by 20 on the boards."
It wasn't just the 44-24 rebound advantage. Georgetown was a step quicker all over the court, especially during a 22-5 run in the second half after Marquette had made the score 48-47.
"It was just the flow of the game," said junior guard Chris Wright, who had eight of his 15 points in that spurt. "We had some guys that were rolling early. I just think it was time for me to make a play."
Lazar Hayward usually does that for Marquette, but he fouled out with 3:47 left. Georgetown appeared as fresh as could be and the Golden Eagles seemed fresh out of steam. "When you play great teams like that, you can't dig yourself in the hole and get out of it," Hayward said after finishing with 15 points, two behind team leader Jimmy Butler.
Williams, whose interesting responses all week had enlivened the tournament, said: "We're here because of our effort. I think our effort has maybe been as good as any team in the country. But over the last 10 minutes, I thought we were bad."
Georgetown (23-9), which got 12 points from Austin Freeman, did not seem likely to be drained for the Saturday final.
"We're in shape, we're ready to play, we want to win. Fatigue is not an issue," Thompson said. "A good friend of mine said there's nothing better than Friday night in New York City, other than Saturday night in New York City. So we're going to show up in New York City on Saturday night."