Pennsylvania overcame mountainous turnover problems and dug itself out of a hole last night with some big plays down the stretch to eke out a 60-58 victory over Georgetown at McDonough Arena.
The Hoyas had their chances, but missed free throws and missed layups and their failure to come up with key rebounds in the final minute cost them their fifth defeat in 12 games this season. It broke an 11-game home winning streak and marked only the sixth time GU has lost at home in five seasons.
The Hoyas were victimized by one of the worst shooting performances by their star, Sleepy Floyd. He made seven of 29 shots, missing 18 of his last 20.
"Except for our wins in the NCAA tournament, this ranks right up there with any road victory we've ever had," said Penn Coach Bob Weinhauer.
The Quakers (5-3) were most impressive in pulling the game out. They had to be after they turned the ball over on nine of their first 12 possessions and fell behind by 12 points. They loked totally outclassed in the first 10 minutes. But Weinhauer, one of the most patient of coaches, remained cool. He kept juggling his lineup until he hit on one that clicked and the Quakers inched their way into the game.
The final minute was wild.
Two free throws by Paul Little gave Penn a seemingly safe 59-54 lead with 1:09 left. The Quakers were later called for a five-second violation when they failed to get the ball inbounds and Eric Smith, who scored 12 of Georgetown's final 14 points, got the Hoyas within 59-56 by making two free throws with 39 seconds to play.
Penn threw the ball away against the Georgetown press and Smith scored on a layup to cut the Penn lead to one point at 0:24.
The Hoyas pressed again and Smith fouled David Lardner with 22 seconds left. Lardner missed the front end of his one-and-one, but teammate George Noon outbattled Ed Spriggs for the rebound. He got the ball to Little, who was immediately fouled by Mike Hancock. He made the first of his one-and-bonus, but missed the second.
The Hoyas took the rebound, but with no timeouts left, hurried the ball upcourt and passed it to Floyd. Maneuvering for a shot near the foul line, he slipped and there was a scramble for the loose ball. Four players got their hands on it before GU's Jeff Bullis gained control near midcourt with five seconds left. He took two dribbles and sent up a desperation 30-foot shot that bounded off the rim as the game ended.
"It's obvious you aren't going to beat a team like Penn when you miss 14 free throws," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson, who late in the game slam-dunked his spectacles against the floor, shattering them, after a mistake by his team.
"We had our opportunities late when they missed, but they kept coming up with the offensive rebounds. It's just a question of us deciding we have to concentrate for 40 minutes. I hope we learn from this.
"Penn is scrappy and hungry and I think they may have wanted it more at the end than we did."
Stopping Floyd was what Penn knew it had to do and the Quakers did.
"What you have to do against Floyd is make him shoot off balance and not put him at the foul line," said Weinhauer.
Penn had 16 turnovers in the first half, but only seven in the second, and after shooting 32 percent in the first half, the Quakers were good on 61 percent thereafter.
Kenneth Hall, largely responsible for holding Floyd down, scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, including five straight that brought Penn from a 48-47 deficit to a 52-48 lead with 4:44 to play. The Ivy League squad never trailed again.