It didn't matter that they had no healthy power forwards left, that most of them never had played a Big East game before -- much less trailed by nine points in the second half of one -- or that they sometimes looked like the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

All that mattered is that the Georgetown Hoyas regrouped, redoubled their defensive efforts and, for a few precious moments, undid an opponent like only the Hoyas traditionally can. The run was 18-0, the victim was Seton Hall, and the result was a stirring, 73-65 Georgetown victory last night at Capital Centre in the Hoyas' Big East opener.

Georgetown (9-2) recovered from an abysmal offensive first half in which it mustered just six field goals, and the remedy was a four-minute stretch of defensive harassment and transition layups in which the 15th-ranked Hoyas turned a 42-33 deficit into a 51-42 lead. The main disrupters were freshmen guards Joey Brown and Charles Harrison, who reversed a nighmarish first half of misfiring by combining for 32 second-half points.

The unraveling of the Pirates (9-2, 2-1) led Georgetown Coach John Thompson to heap lavish praise upon Brown -- and Thompson's counterpart, P.J. Carlesimo, to issue a stern verbal spanking to Seton Hall.

The Pirates' senior point guard, Oliver Taylor, is sidelined with a hip injury, but their excuses were few. They allowed the Hoyas to escape on an evening in which Georgetown played again without Alonzo Mourning and had usual replacement Brian Kelly and his sore ankle available for just one minute. The Hoyas started four freshmen.

"I'm disappointed in us, meaning our coaching staff and our team," Carlesimo said. "I'm especially disappointed in our upperclassmen. We could not be more fortunate coming in here, catching them without Alonzo and without Brian and with their guys playing their first Big East game.

"I thought our effort was very, very lacking, and I'm disappointed. . . . I genuinely felt that they played with more effort than we did. Our kids didn't give up, but {Georgetown} generally played with more intensity than we did. . . . The team that deserved to win the game won, although you'd have to say we beat ourselves."

Harrison finished with 18 points (16 in the second half) and senior center Dikembe Mutombo added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Hoyas. Brown had all 16 of his points after halftime, while Robert Churchwell ended with 12 and fellow freshman Lamont Morgan eight.

Guard Terry Dehere led Seton Hall with 21 points but drew much of Carlesimo's ire for Georgetown's decisive burst. A flurry of Pirates turnovers fueled the quick turaround, as Seton Hall missed two shots and gave away the ball five times while the Hoyas were surpassing them.

Churchwell, Brown and Harrison hit jump shots, then Mutombo's second-effort three-point play tied the score at 42 with 12:39 left. Brown and Mutombo scored, then Churchwell and Brown converted on layups created by steals -- with Brown's basket becoming a three-point play that completed the breathtaking spurt and left Georgetown leading 51-42 with 10:18 remaining.

"The decisions we made were very, very disappointing," Carlesimo said. " . . . We're {ahead by} nine, then they get nine points on five mental mistakes by us. . . . We had a better chance to win than you're usually going to have when you come down here, and we should've been able to capitalize on the situation better than we did."

Said Thompson: "Our kids had a lot of reasons to just pack it up and say, 'We can stop.' With the young kids, I'm very pleased that they didn't. That's what I told them, {that} they exhibited courage."

The Hoyas led 16-9 on Mutombo's reverse jam along the baseline 8:17 before halftime. Georgetown scored just seven points from then until the break, however, and Seton Hall grabbed a 29-23 advantage.

A 12-0 run capped by Dehere's three-pointer made it 21-16 4:44 before the half. The Hoyas managed to pull within 23-22 on Mutombo's two free throws, but the Pirates closed the half with a 6-1 surge over the final 2 1/2 minutes.

Seton Hall extended its lead to 42-33 on reserve forward Jerry Walker's three-point play with 14 1/2 minutes to play, and the Pirates seemed on the verge of applying the knockout punch before the stunning switch.

"Joey just starting diving and running all around on defense, getting everyone psyched up," Harrison said. "So we all picked up the pace."

Said Brown: "I think we play good defense all the time. We just played especially good defense then."