|Georgetown beaten at own game in Big East tournament finals|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 15 March 2008 18:55|
Everything appeared according to script: coach John Thompson III confidently leading the Hoyas to consecutive championships for the first time at the tradition-rich school since the elder Thompson had a kid named Patrick Ewing to throw into the game 23 years ago.
Then things began going wrong for the Hoyas, and not even Patrick Ewing Jr. could help.
Seventh-seeded Pittsburgh started clamping down on defense, forcing turnover after turnover, and seemingly every rebound went its way. The result was a stunning 74-65 victory Saturday night that denied the Hoyas their eighth Big East tournament title and sent Georgetown battered and bruised into the NCAA tournament.
``We have to regroup, grow, be better, as I've said all year,'' said the younger Thompson, who spoke so confidently early in the week but was reduced to a whisper. ``We have to be better next week than we are this week.''
Ninth-ranked Georgetown (27-5) had looked pretty good all week, breezing past Villanova and West Virginia and running its record to 14-0 as the top seed. It had beaten the Panthers the only three times they'd met in the tournament, and Pittsburgh had already played three games in three days just to set up the title tilt.
But after DaJuan Summers gave Georgetown a six-point lead 6 minutes into the game, the Panthers suddenly looked like the team with fresher legs under them. They grabbed every rebound - 11 offensive in the first half - and outhustled Georgetown for every loose ball.
Pittsburgh wound up with a 41-29 rebounding advantage and went to the free-throw line 44 times against just nine for the Hoyas.
``They just played like they wanted to win,'' said Georgetown guard Jessie Sapp, who finished with nine points in his worst performance of the tournament. ``They made a lot of hustle plays and you wouldn't have known they played four days.''
The Panthers (26-9) not only defended the perimeter, where Georgetown had made a school-record 17 3-pointers in its quarterfinal victory over Villanova, but also hounded all-Big East center Roy Hibbert in the post.
After going for season highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds the night before, the 7-foot-2 Hibbert managed only six rebounds and finished with 17 points - though he also had several shots swatted away by Pittsburgh players.
``I noticed not only in this game but previous games that he liked to take the one-two jump hook, and I just waited for him to get to two and jumped as high as I can,'' said Pitt forward Sam Young, who had three blocks and scored 16 points in earning the tournament MVP award. ``I pretty much got it at the right time tonight and that's how it went.''
Thompson likes to think of the season in three parts, beginning with the regular season and advancing through the conference tournament and into the NCAA tournament.
His players have bought in, and were already looking forward to learning when and where they'll play next week. But even Thompson, slumping in his seat and rubbing his eyes, acknowledged it would take at least a little while to get over this loss
``This is the second part of the year just ended,'' he said. ``The third part of the year is getting ready to start. So as we try to do all the time, you can't have too many high highs and too many low lows. (But) that's hard to say right now.''