Big East Tournament Leaves Hoyas Feeling Blue and Gray
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
NEW YORK, March 10 -- Throughout the era Jessie Sapp will remember most fondly from his college career -- that glorious span in which Georgetown rebuilt itself as a force to be feared in the Big East -- the Hoyas lost just two games in three years at Madison Square Garden.
On Tuesday, they lost their second in eight days -- the latest sending Georgetown crashing out of the Big East tournament in the opening round for only the second time in school history.
After leading much of the first half against 13th-seeded St. John's, Georgetown stumbled down the stretch and fell, 64-59, a victim of the poor decision-making and errant shooting that has plagued the team all season.
Sapp, who wears his love of his native New York proudly, put the Hoyas in position for a comeback by sinking a three-pointer that put Georgetown ahead, 49-46, with 6 minutes 4 seconds remaining.
But St. John's was the surer shooting squad down the stretch. And a miscue on Georgetown's final possession led to a last-ditch attempt to force overtime. The three-point attempt, by Nikita Mescheriakov, clanged off the backboard with three seconds remaining.
The locker room was silent afterward, with players slumped on benches, not talking to one another and not particularly wanting to talk to anyone else.
"It's tough to lose in your home town," Sapp said. "We played hard. We never gave up. I'm not satisfied with the loss, but I'm satisfied by the effort . . . [But] it just doesn't add up."
Sophomore guard Chris Wright, who battled as fiercely as anyone on the court and finished with a team-high 14 points, shared the sentiment.
"We threw that game away," Wright said. "We had a chance to make a play, and we didn't execute. Not just the last play at 15 seconds -- but plays before that, defensively."
Freshman center Greg Monroe, who fouled out with 1:34 remaining, was forced to look on from the sideline at what had become a familiar scene this season, with turnovers, mental breakdowns and poor shooting spelling the Hoyas' undoing.
In ceremonies after the loss, Monroe was honored as the Big East's rookie of the year. But neither the trophy, topped by a gold-plated basketball, nor the applause made him feel any better about the disappointing end to the season.
While St. John's (16-16) advances to Wednesday's second round, Georgetown (16-14) is left to contemplate a season of unrealized potential and await a committee's verdict about whether the Hoyas are worthy even of an NIT bid.