By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 20, 2006
The players for the eighth-ranked Georgetown men's basketball team slowly trudged off the McDonough Arena court as if they were stunned by what had just taken place in the gym where they are usually so dominant. Old Dominion had beaten them soundly, 75-62, in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 2,500.
"We're obviously disappointed from the loss," junior guard Jonathan Wallace said. "But at the same time, it opens our eyes. We didn't play as hard as we could have, we got out-worked in certain situations. The effort lacked at times. The intensity wasn't there."
This was Old Dominion's first victory over a nationally ranked team since the 1994-95 season, when it beat No. 9 Villanova, 89-81, in triple overtime in the NCAA tournament. As the final minute ran off the clock, the pocket of Monarchs fans in the building began chanting, "C-A-A! C-A-A!" -- a familiar cheer during last season's NCAA tournament, when fellow Colonial Athletic Association team George Mason made its run to the Final Four.
Georgetown (2-1) hadn't lost in its tiny on-campus gym since Jan. 20, 1982, when Connecticut upset the 13th-ranked Hoyas, 63-52. Over the next 24 years, the Hoyas won 23 straight games in McDonough by an average margin of 27.8 points. Granted, the Monarchs -- who were picked to finish fourth in the CAA -- were a much stronger team than most of those previous 23 opponents.
While the Patriots were making national headlines with their postseason run last season, Old Dominion (4-1) was becoming the first CAA team to advance to the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament. All five starters for the Monarchs yesterday, as well as their top two reserves, were part of that squad. After the game, Old Dominion Coach Blaine Taylor essentially thanked Georgetown Coach John Thompson III for being willing to not only play his team, but to agree to a return game in Norfolk next season.
"We went into this game knowing it was going to be an extremely difficult game," Thompson said. "We wanted some challenges in the preseason, we have some on the schedule, and we sure . . . got one tonight. That's a very good team right there, a veteran team, an experienced team, and we knew they'd give us different looks."
The Monarchs shot 56.3 percent from three-point range, making 6 of 9 long-range attempts in the second half. They out-rebounded the Hoyas, 35-28, including 15 offensive rebounds.
Junior forward Jeff Green had one of the most ineffective performances of his career; he sat the final 11 minutes of the first half with two fouls, and finished with just two points, three rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes. Green attempted only two shots.
"I thought they did a good job on Jeff," Thompson said. "Everyone knows it's no secret, he's such an integral part of what we do, and when he's off, more than likely we're off."
Green was the only starter who didn't score in double figures. Junior Roy Hibbert led the Hoyas with 17 points and eight rebounds, and guard Jessie Sapp added a career-high 16 points.
Hibbert dominated the Monarchs for stretches, and when he quickly spun past Sam Harris, and then emphatically dunked over the 7-foot-3 junior, early in the second half, it appeared as if Georgetown was in control of the game. Hibbert was fouled, and he stalked around the court as the crowd -- nearly two-thirds of which appeared to be Georgetown students -- chanted his name. Hibbert missed the free throw, but Georgetown was up, 44-37, with 14 minutes 3 seconds to play.
But Old Dominion outscored the Hoyas 21-3 over the next eight minutes. The Monarchs dominated in that stretch, forcing turnovers on defense, hitting long-range shots and chasing down nearly every rebound. The run started simply enough, with sophomore forward Jonathan Adams making a three-pointer; Old Dominion made four of its next five shots from beyond the arc.
The Monarchs took their first lead of the second half with 12:50 remaining, when 6-1 guard Brandon Johnson drove right at the 7-2 Hibbert and flipped a shot over the big center. Old Dominion never trailed again.
At the same time, the Hoyas were passive. Sophomores Marc Egerson and Jessie Sapp seemed hesitant to shoot against the Monarchs' zone.
One Old Dominion possession midway through the second half was emblematic of the game. Brian Henderson missed a shot, but grabbed the rebound. Then Drew Williamson misfired on a long three-pointer, but Valdas Vasylius ran down the ball. Jonathan Adams's jumper from the baseline was off-target, but neither Patrick Ewing Jr. nor Green could grab the rebound, and the ball went out of bounds. Finally, Vasylius sank a three-pointer from the left side to end the nearly 90-second possession and give Old Dominion a 56-47 advantage with 8:24 remaining.
"I think out-rebounding them was very significant and we got some extra possessions in the second half," Taylor said. "Those extra possessions deflated them a bit; it's almost like, what do you have to do to get a stop?"
Hoyas Note: Tyler Crawford is in the hospital and the Hoyas are waiting to see what is wrong with the junior swingman, according to Thompson. Crawford, a co-captain, did not play at Vanderbilt on Wednesday with what was termed the flu, but he worsened after the game and was taken to a hospital. The team returned home on a charter flight following the 86-70 win, but Crawford flew home the following day with the team trainer. Thompson said on Thursday that Crawford had strep throat.