Owens's Perfect Night Goes a Long Way as Hoyas Down UTEP

Jeff Green
Jeff Green gets around a UTEP defender during Georgetown's 76-64 win at the Sun Bowl tournament championship. (Victor Calzada - AP Photo/El Paso Times)
By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 29, 2005

EL PASO, Dec. 28 -- Senior forward Brandon Bowman says that Darrel Owens is one of -- if not the best -- shooter on the Georgetown men's basketball team. He claims that he has seen Owens, a fifth-year senior, make 40 consecutive three-point shots in practice -- "and that's not an exaggeration."

Those who watched Owens make all six shots he took from the field, including five three-pointers, in Georgetown's 76-64 win over Texas-El Paso in the championship game of the Sun Bowl Basketball Tournament on Wednesday night, would probably be inclined to believe Bowman. Owens scored a game-high 21 points and added three assists and two steals and was named the tournament's most valuable player.

"The last two weeks of practice, my teammates have told me to keep shooting," said Owens, who was shooting 35.7 percent from three-point range entering the game. "As a shooter, when you miss a couple, you're kind of discouraged. I want to point out Sead [Dizdarevic, a junior forward], he tells me to shoot the ball every single time I get an open look. I just owe everything to my teammates tonight."

Owens's shooting helped the Hoyas (8-2) overcome a hostile crowd of 11,010 inside the Don Haskins Center. UTEP, which has won 26 titles in the 45-year history of the tournament, fell to 7-3.

"It's key for this group just to win something," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson III, whose team opens its Big East schedule on Jan. 5 against Providence. "For our guys, we showed a lot of guts. We were tough tonight."

Added Owens: "Going into the Big East, this is a confidence booster. I think this momentum is going to carry over into the Big East."

There are plenty of trends the Hoyas want to carry over into Big East play. Five players scored in double figures. Bowman had 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals and tied a career high with six assists; he was also named to the all-tournament team.

Georgetown shot 55.7 percent from the floor in its games against Colgate and UTEP, including 53.6 percent from three-point range (22 of 41). One of the reasons why the Hoyas shot so well was because they shared the ball and found the open man; they had a total of 38 assists on their 49 field goals in the two games.

"It seemed like their point of emphasis was very similar to Colgate's in that they wanted to take away our interior game," Thompson said of UTEP. "They wanted to take away a lot of the cuts. They played the ball hard but packed it in. That just means that we're going to have guys open on the perimeter and we're fortunate that the ball went down today."

UTEP made three mini-runs in the second half, and each time they were halted by a Georgetown three-pointer -- from Owens, Jonathan Wallace (13 points) and Jeff Green (10 points). Green's shot was especially timely; the Hoyas had turned over the ball on their three previous possessions and their lead was whittled down to seven (51-44, with 9 minutes 11 seconds remaining).

Georgetown used a 16-4 run over the final six minutes of the first half to open up a 36-23 lead at the break. The Hoyas did it by shooting well from the outside -- Owens sank three consecutive three-pointers from the left side in one two-minute stretch -- and by using their zone defense to limit the Miners offensively (zero field goals).

Perhaps most impressively, the Hoyas played without Green and 7-foot-2 sophomore Roy Hibbert, their interior anchors, for most of that stretch. Hibbert was limited to just five first-half minutes because of foul trouble, and Green -- who dominated the first three minutes of the game -- picked up his second foul with four minutes left in the half.

So the Hoyas turned to reserve forward Amadou Kilkenny-Diaw (four points), who gave them a physical presence in the middle of the zone. Hibbert, who didn't miss a shot while scoring 18 points against Colgate, had just two points in 13 minutes.

"I think that the key to today's game was Amadou," Thompson said. "In the first half, he gave us a huge boost. When we put him in there, our defense tightened up and I think that's when we started to inch out and spread it apart. That's the kind of team we have. We have guys that are going to be called upon and they have been so far and they're going to be ready to help and contribute."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company