Georgetown freshman Fred Brown banked in a rebound with one second remaining in overtime to give the Hoyas a 52-51 victory over Seton Hall tonight before 3,000 shocked fans in Walsh Auditorium.
Hoya Coach John Thompson ran to center court, embraced freshman Brown and the rest of his players enthusiastically, then raised his fists triumphantly as the Hoyas (9-6, 2-1 in the conference) completed a near-impossible victory over a scrapping, heartbroken Pirate squad.
Seton Hall led, 51-50, with four seconds left in the five-minute overtime period before Brown, a 6-foot-5 guard, outleaped 6-8 Pirate freshman forward John Collins on a jump ball inside the circle in front of the Hoya basket.
Hoya forward Mike Hancock gained control and missed a six-footer from within the lane. But Brown snaked through a tangle of bodies on the left side of the basket and, with two hands, pushed the ball off the glass in the basket as the clock ticked down to zero before Seton Hall could call time-out.
"I knew Collins was way up there on the jump ball," said Brown. "But I knew I had controlled the tip. I knew somebody else had to shoot, so I immediately went to the basket to position myself in case of rebound."
Collins had missed the front end of a one-and-one free-throw situation with 12 seconds left that could have given the Pirates (5-7, 1-3 in the Big East) the victory. Collins also rebounded Hoya forward Eric Smith's off-balance, one-hand attempt with six seconds left, but was tied up by Brown to set up the jump ball.
"Freddie Brown showed sheer determination and effort," said Thompson.
"He must have tapped it over my head,said Collins accurately. "I wouldn't say he had a quick jump, though." Collins said he knew the missed free throw was "a big goof, but I said to myself, as soon as I let the ball go, I've got to go down and make up for that on the other end."
The game was deadlocked, 25-25, at halftime and was tied at 47-47 at the end of regulation as Seton's Dan Callandrillo (16 points) and Georgetown's Eric (sleepy) Floyd (eight for 13, a game-high 18 points) matched jump shots. e
Brown was the only other Hoya player to score in double figures as he made all four of his shots from the field and four of seven free throws for 12 points.
It was the missed free throws on both sides that caused Thompson and tempestuous, flamboyant Seton Hall Coach Bill Raftery grief on the sidelines. The Pirates made only five of their 12 foul shots. The Hoyas coverted 12 of 17, but missed three crucial opportunities late in the overtime.
With the score Tied, 49-49, with 3:24 remaining, Floyd missed the front end of a one-and-one situation. Then, after Seton had taken a 51-49 lead on Callandrillo's two free throws after a foul by Floyd, Brown missed his second foul shot with 1:05 left.
After Brown's miss, Seton Hall was content to hold the ball, hoping to run out the clock. But Collins' missed free throw and Brown's agressive play forced the jump ball, and turned around what appared to be a sure Pirate victory.
Seton Hall might have been tougher had Daryl Devero, who averages 13 points a game, not been forced out of the Pirate lineup three games ago after surgery to remove a boil.
Tonight's win was the second straight Big East victory for the Hoyas, who face Syracuse Saturday night in McDonough Arena.
"This win was more important than the Boston College win," said Thompson, "in that it's crucial for us to flip on the right side of the ledger in close games, especially league games where all the excitement is. This is the kind of game that will give the kids confidence."
Brown who radiated confidence as he stood in the locker room answering reporters' questons, has had to sacrifice the free-wheeling style that gained him all-America honors as a high school player in New York City to run the offense the way Thompson insists it be run.
"Fred's a point guard, but he showed tonight he can rebound with the big guys," said Thompson.
"Rebounding is not always who gets over the rim," said Brown. "Positioning and blocking out the opponent are just as important, if not more so. A lot of rebounds are grabbed below the rim.