By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 18, 2007
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 17 -- Georgetown junior Jeff Green has occasionally been accused of being too passive when looking for his own shot. But on Saturday afternoon, with the Hoyas trailing Villanova by one point and 33 seconds left to play, Green wanted the ball. He wanted to be the one to take the big shot.
So the Hoyas got the ball to their best player, out on the left wing. Green decided against taking a three-pointer, used a little pump fake to slide past Mike Nardi and then pulled up for a smooth jumper that fell through the basket with 20 seconds on the clock. That wound up being the winning points in Georgetown's 58-55 win over Villanova in front of 19,089 at Wachovia Center.
"I was in one of those zones where I was very confident in my shot," said Green, who was 8 of 16 for 19 points and had nine rebounds, eight blocks and four assists. "I work on those two-dribble pull-ups every day after practice, so it just came natural to me. I just wanted the ball. I had a feeling that I would make the shot."
Green then added two free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining, and after Villanova freshman Scottie Reynolds's last-ditch three-pointer bounced away, the Hoyas had their ninth straight victory and moved into a tie for first in the Big East with No. 7 Pittsburgh. Georgetown (20-5, 10-2) travels to last-place Cincinnati (10-15, 1-10) on Wednesday and then hosts the Panthers (23-4, 10-2) on Saturday at Verizon Center.
It was a gritty win for the Hoyas, who were bested in several offensive categories by Villanova. Georgetown attempted five fewer shots, was outrebounded by a 35-31 margin and committed four more turnovers, leading Coach John Thompson III to ask, "Is that possible?" when the discrepancies were pointed out after the game.
Junior center Roy Hibbert, who averaged 21 points in his past three games, was not a factor (four points on 2-of-4 shooting in 18 minutes), but sophomore guard Jessie Sapp tied his career high with 16 points, hit a 60-foot shot as the first half ended and played terrific defense on Reynolds in the second half.
Georgetown blocked 14 shots, including a career-high eight by the 6-foot-9 Green. Over the final 9 1/2 minutes, the Hoyas held Villanova to just two field goals -- three-pointers from Curtis Sumpter (15 points) and Reynolds (18 points) -- and they forced two shot-clock violations in the last 2 1/2 minutes. When the final buzzer sounded, Thompson thrust both arms in the air.
"It's a tough, tough game," Thompson said. "Every possession in the second half was important. To come in here -- and that team has been playing extremely well, at a very high level -- to come in here in front of this crowd and win, is a very, very good win."
It was especially sweet, considering that Villanova (18-8, 6-6) beat Georgetown in early January, a game that was notable because the Wildcats held the 7-2 Hibbert without a field goal attempt. Once again, they did a good job of preventing Hibbert from getting the ball -- the first time he got it on the blocks in a position to score came with about 12 minutes left in the game -- and his minutes were limited (four in the first half) because of foul trouble. The Hoyas went to Hibbert twice in the final three minutes, and he scored once and his shot was blocked by 6-8 Will Sheridan.
The Wildcats built an 11-point lead in the first half. Reynolds, who had 13 points in the first 20 minutes, was the catalyst; during one 60-second stretch, he nailed two three-pointers and drove the lane to feed Dante Cunningham for a reverse layup.
But Georgetown closed the half on a 9-0 run, which was capped by Sapp's long shot. He grabbed a long rebound off a missed three-point attempt, took two dribbles and then sent the ball right through the basket to bring the Hoyas to within two at the break. It wasn't a lucky shot, Green said; he and Sapp take five half-court shots at the end of every practice.
"Jeff shouts 'Gilbert Arenas' and fires away," said Sapp, who is a career 30 percent three-point shooter. "Jeff always makes at least two, nothing but net. It's unbelievable. I'm usually good for one, but Jeff is the master."
Said Thompson: "The irony in that is, I fussed at him the other day after practice. I said, 'Hey, buddy, why don't you work on your normal shots that you get every day? You're not going to get that shot.' I guess I don't know everything."
The Hoyas methodically fought back from an eight-point deficit in the second half. Sapp stayed with Reynolds and prevented him from easily driving to the basket as he did in the first half, and that affected Villanova's offense. Sapp also made two three-pointers to help bring Georgetown back.
Georgetown trailed 55-54 with a minute to go, but forced the Wildcats into a shot-clock violation, which set up Green's winning play. On that possession, Thompson wanted to put his three junior starters -- Green, Hibbert and guard Jonathan Wallace -- on the same side of the court, and the Hoyas were looking for either Hibbert rolling to the basket or Green open on the wing.
"He's our go-to guy," Sapp said of Green. "I believe in him, but it could have gone to anybody, it could've gone to Jon or DaJuan [Summers] or Roy or it could've came to me. We called on Jeff, and he came through in the clutch."