Hoyas Pass First Test With Big Second Half

By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 28, 2005

EL PASO, Dec. 27 -- The Georgetown men's basketball team came all this way to west Texas for one final tune-up before the Big East season, for one final chance to play on the road against a quality opponent. A terrific second-half performance by the Hoyas ensured that their trip wasn't for naught, as they beat Colgate, 61-45, in the Don Haskins Center on the first day of the Sun Bowl Basketball Tournament.

Georgetown (7-2), which shot 66.7 percent in the second half against the Raiders (5-7), will face the host team, UTEP, in the championship game on Wednesday night. The Miners (7-2) beat winless Mississippi Valley State, 74-58, in the first game on Tuesday.

Georgetown and UTEP have met only four times, but together they've produced some memorable games, starting with the Miners' upset of undefeated and fifth-ranked Georgetown in El Paso in December 1985, and most recently with the Hoyas' 71-44 annihilation of the Miners in a 1993 National Invitation Tournament game at McDonough Arena.

Roy Hibbert, Georgetown's 7-foot-2 sophomore, continued his dominating play by making 8 of 8 shots for a game-high 18 points. He had three blocked shots but just five rebounds (zero offensive), on a night when the Hoyas did a poor job on the offensive glass (just three rebounds).

Georgetown won its previous three games by an average of 24.7 points, so finding itself in a tight game was "very, very good," Coach John Thompson III said. "I like the way we responded in the second half."

"You end up in a fight, and all of a sudden you have to find a way to grind it out. As time got further along, we got better on offense as a team, and on defense we got better as a team."

The player personnel director of an Eastern Conference NBA team came to the tournament specifically to watch Hibbert. Unfortunately, he didn't see Hibbert's best moves, which came at the El Paso airport on Monday; the Hoyas were met by a group of local dancers, and Hibbert, in a sombrero, danced with a woman who was a full two feet shorter than him.

Senior Brandon Bowman added 10 points for the Hoyas. Georgetown did a terrific job of sharing the ball, with 19 assists on 23 field goals.

The public address announcer inside the Don Haskins Center instructed the fans who remained for the second game to "pick a team to cheer for" -- and the crowd went for the underdogs from the Patriot League. But most of the 9,410 fans who watched the first game cleared out of the arena by halftime of the second game -- which was surprising, considering that Georgetown led by only 25-23.

Back-to-back rainbow three-pointers from sophomore Jonathan Wallace gave the Hoyas a little breathing room after intermission, but they didn't shake the Raiders until they put together a 14-2 run midway through the half.

Sophomore Tyler Crawford, who hadn't played much this season in part because Thompson wanted to take a look at some of the team's freshmen, gave Georgetown a lift during that run. He scored off of a hard cut and bounce pass from Jeff Green, and then made his first three-pointer of the season, which gave the Hoyas a 44-37 lead.

The Hoyas jumped on top of the Raiders at the start and held a 10-point advantage, 16-6, with 11 minutes 25 seconds left in the half. But over the next seven minutes, Colgate hit five three-point shots and tied the score at 21.

Hibbert was Georgetown's only reliable offensive threat in the first 20 minutes; he made all six shots he attempted and had 12 of the Hoyas' 25 first-half points.

The Raiders used three different defenders on Hibbert in the first half, with varying results. Marc Daniels, a 6-9 senior, started against Hibbert, and on the Hoyas' first possession, he deflected an entry pass intended for Hibbert into the basket instead. A minute later, Hibbert pump-faked and then dunked over Daniels to give Georgetown a 6-0 lead.

Peter Minchella, a 6-10 sophomore, was the next Raider to match up with Hibbert; he fell to the ground -- though the crowd felt he was pushed -- as Hibbert established position and dunked. Simon Knight, a burly 6-8 junior, fared the best, mainly because Hibbert didn't attempt a shot against him.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company