For Georgetown, A 3-Point Landing
GU Hits Record 17 to Advance: Georgetown 82, Villanova 63
Friday, March 14, 2008; Page E01
NEW YORK, March 13 -- For much of top-seeded Georgetown's 82-63 victory over eighth-seeded Villanova in a Big East quarterfinal on Thursday afternoon, senior center Roy Hibbert sat in a chair on the sideline, his long legs jutting out, his size 18 feet planted squarely on the floor.
Hibbert, the lone Hoya named to the all-Big East first team, was saddled with fouls, had twice as many turnovers (four) as shot attempts (two), and failed to score. Yet it hardly bothered the Hoyas. They made 17 three-point shots, which set a school record and tied the Big East tournament record. Junior guard Jessie Sapp set career highs in points (23) and three-point baskets (six).
"It's a tournament team," said sophomore forward DaJuan Summers, referring to the Hoyas' ability to adapt. "It's the Georgetown we need to be this time of year to win."
The top-seeded Hoyas (26-4) will face fifth-seeded West Virginia (24-9), which topped Connecticut, in a semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday. Georgetown won the regular season meeting with the Mountaineers in late January, 58-57, a victory that was sealed by a Patrick Ewing Jr. blocked shot that could have been called goaltending.
Those kind of narrow victories led Louisville Coach Rick Pitino to describe Georgetown as "lucky," and those kind of labels have started to gnaw at the Hoyas, who went 28-6, defended their regular season conference title and are the reigning tournament champions.
"We want to make a statement for the rest of the year," said Summers, who had 19 points and three steals. "We won the Big East for the second year in a row, and people are still saying that we're not the best team in the Big East. That's kind of crazy to me, as a player. With people questioning that, we have to play with a chip on our shoulder."
Georgetown did that on Thursday, building a 15-point first-half lead on the strength of senior Jonathan Wallace's outside shooting and then weathering a second-half run by the Wildcats (20-12). Wallace (20 points) said that it was important for the Hoyas to be aggressive from the start, knowing that they were facing a motivated opponent that wanted to avenge a controversial regular season loss at Georgetown, as well as pick up a quality win to bolster its NCAA tournament r¿sum¿.
Freshman Austin Freeman (seven points, five assists) missed a three-pointer to open the game, but the Hoyas converted their next seven attempts from beyond the arc, including four from Wallace. Georgetown made 10 of 17 three-pointers in the first half and 7 of 11 in the second, and many were open looks.
Of the Hoyas' 28 field goals, 25 came off of an assist. It was easy to share the ball, said Ewing (career-high seven assists), "because everyone was feeling it. You know no matter who you pass it to, the shot's going in."
"With skip passes and ball reversals, which our guys did, you end up with open shots," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson III, who is 7-2 in Big East tournament games. "Now, you still have to make them. . . . They put so many people around our post players that you have to make shots."
Hibbert played only four minutes in the second half before fouling out with 5 minutes 9 seconds remaining. So the Hoyas had a quicker look with sophomore forward Vernon Macklin (who also eventually fouled out) and freshman guard Chris Wright (who missed all of conference regular season play with a foot injury).
Sapp took control of the game, particularly after Villanova made a run behind the long-range shooting of Scottie Reynolds (Herndon) and junior Dwayne Anderson (St. John's). The Wildcats led 50-48 with 12:20 remaining, but Sapp was the catalyst as Georgetown scored the next 11 points. He converted a three-point play, made two three-pointers and tossed a lob to Summers, who laid in the ball.
"The flow of the game was kind of different," Wallace said. "It called for kind of a different look; it made us a little more up-tempo and aggressive off of the dribble. We're a team that can play various styles, so we can make it happen."
Afterward, however, Thompson stressed that the Hoyas need an aggressive and effective Hibbert on the floor as they make their way through the postseason. Sapp, who had four assists and just one turnover, agreed. He had a message for Hibbert, which he delivered with a smile: "Please don't do that again."
"This is a great start, but we know it's not over," Sapp said. "I think we showed a lot of people what we can do as a team. With the big fella being back next game, it's going to show what we can do on that level."