Pittsburgh 65, Georgetown 64
Georgetown took second-ranked Pittsburgh to the last possession of a Big East Conference foul-for-all today. But a mix-up on defense allowed guard Julius Page to break free for a long pass on an inbounds play, and his free throw after being fouled with less than one second left allowed the Panthers to escape with a 65-64 victory.
"We can't let a pass like that get all the way down the floor like that," said Georgetown Coach Craig Esherick, who added that blame "is for private discussion. We're still dealing with college kids."
For long stretches, the Hoyas (10-5, 2-3) played as well as in any game all season. They led at intermission and rallied from several serious second-half deficits, among them 11 points with 12 minutes left and four points with 22 seconds remaining. Then they tied the score on two foul shots by freshman forward Brandon Bowman 3.5 seconds before what seemed certain to be overtime.
"Coach told everybody [during a Pittsburgh timeout before Bowman's first foul shot] to pick up full court, pick up your man, be organized," Bowman said. "We knew what we were supposed to be doing."
Forward Jaron Brown inbounded the ball and looked for backup guard Carl Krauser, who would maneuver through traffic and try to draw a foul or throw up anything close to a decent shot. Brown did not want to throw a long pass, fearing that it would go out of bounds at the other end and the Hoyas would then get it under their basket.
"I was looking at Jaron as I was running down the court," Page said, "and I was so wide open. He threw it on the money, and I went from there."
Added Brown: "I took the chance."
Georgetown guard Drew Hall caught up to Page and was called for the foul with 0.4 seconds left. Page made the first foul shot, then missed the second on purpose so the Hoyas could not set up what would have needed to be a miraculous play, and the Panthers (15-1, 5-0) survived.
"It's the second time I lost it at the end of a game," a shaken Hall said. "I feel bad for the team. They played hard. . . . I tried not to touch him, [but] I didn't want to give him anything free."
The teams combined for 55 fouls, and the best players for each side had to be cautious for most of the second half. Typical was the inbounds pass to begin the second half, on which Page was whistled for pushing Tony Bethel before any time came off the clock.
Generally, Esherick said he was proud of how the Hoyas played against such a highly regarded team, rallying behind a 12-footer by swingman Darrel Owen, a jumper and twisting layup by Bowman, a drive by Bethel and a three-pointer by Gerald Riley during the comeback midway through the second half. That rally came with Pittsburgh denying Michael Sweetney the ball, mostly with a seldom-used zone defense.
But Sweetney broke free for an inside basket off a pass from Courtland Freeman that capped the rally and lifted Georgetown to a 50-49 lead with 6 minutes 31 seconds left. After much back-and-forth, Page hit the second of his two free throws to give Pittsburgh a four-point lead with 22 seconds left.
Hall brought the Hoyas within two by making two free throws with 16 seconds left, and then Donatas Zavackas, the Panthers' best foul shooter, missed two, giving the Hoyas the chance to tie.
Before the Hoyas' last possession, Esherick convinced the officials to add a second to the clock -- "At the time, I thought 8.3 seconds was much better," he said. Bowman didn't waste any time before driving the right side and drawing a blocking foul on Zavackas, but after Bowman's free throws tied the score, the extra tick certainly helped Page and the Panthers on the deciding play.
Pittsburgh, which entered the game shooting 61.4 percent from the free throw line, was only 24 for 41 (58.5 percent) today. However, backup front-court player Chevon Troutman, who entered the game shooting just 43 percent from the line, made all 10 of his foul shots.
The Hoyas took little immediate satisfaction from their effort.
"It's always something in end-of-game situations," Bethel said, referring to Georgetown folding late in a loss to St. John's a week ago and last season losing four games in overtime and two others by a point each, one of them to Pittsburgh.
"We've got to get straightened out, but there are a lot of games left."