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That matters, you see. Carril has had his opportunities to leave over the years—for Vanderbilt, for Boston College. "But every time I'd be tempted, I'd get some player I call a light bulb," says Carril. "Made you feel good. I'd see that light bulb every day, and I wouldn't be able to leave."
In a low-candlepower league like the Ivy, a 100-watt kid like Scrabis can make all the difference. "If Bobby had been at Georgetown for four years," says John III, "he'd be starting for Pops this season. And I'm not just saying that because Bobby's my friend."
Princeton led 29-21 at halftime, but in the second half the Hoyas began to get the ball inside to Mourning more regularly, and Princeton was helpless. Georgetown's freshmanchild towered above the smaller opposition. But even after the Hoyas pulled even, Princeton swapped hoops with them.
"We thought we'd feel a momentum switch," said Scrabis. "But then we'd get a three or a backdoor layup. We never felt. Oh, here they come." Added Mueller, "With all those TV timeouts, there wasn't any problem with us getting tired." The Ivy League has no TV timeouts because it has no TV.
After Mourning made a free throw to put Georgetown ahead 50-49 with 23 seconds to go, Princeton got Scrabis a shot with :08 left—a shot at victory. Mourning had to extend his formidable wing every last inch to block it.
And that's how the game might best have ended: with Princeton's best player getting a good shot and Georgetown's best player snuffing it out with a great defensive play. However, one tick remained on the clock once the ball, last touched by Georgetown, had gone out of bounds. Mueller took the inbounds pass with his back to Mourning. He wheeled and squeezed off one last try.
Certainly Mourning got a piece of the ball. If he got a little bit of Mueller, too, no official would attest. "We'll have to take that one up with God," said Carril, "when we get there."
To his players, he said, "As bad as you feel, feeling this bad is better than never getting a chance to feel this bad."
For John III it was perhaps the perfect ending, but an awfully agonizing way to get there. He had teethed on his ticket stub, disfiguring it beyond recognition. His two boxes of M & Ms had melted in his hand, not in his mouth. He had seen his father look on helplessly while Princeton came within a few free throws, a turnover, maybe a deflected shot, of the perfect game.