Seton Hall 93, Georgetown 82
What had seemed a realistic preseason goal of making the NCAA tournament for Georgetown took a severe battering last night after yet another late-game meltdown. An angry Coach Craig Esherick was harsh in his criticism of players he refused to identify during postgame remarks that lasted about 30 seconds.
"We've got to figure out who we have on our team that wants to win," he said after the 93-82 Big East Conference overtime loss to Seton Hall before 7,242 at MCI Center. "Those people that want to win, and work to win, are going to play. Those who want to make excuses and don't want to win are not going to play."
This performance had all the patterns that led to a 14-point loss at Seton Hall two weeks ago -- a sluggish start, dreadful defense at times and guards Andre Barrett and John Allen making the key plays. And when Barrett hit a long three-point shot and later fed forward Andre Sweet for a layup with just over a minute left in overtime the Hoyas (10-6, 2-4) were on their way to fifth place in the seven-team West Division.
"We've got to dig deep," said power forward Mike Sweetney, who had his 29th career double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, but fouled out with nearly five minutes left in regulation. "I know people are counting us out. But I've got faith in our team. We can do it."
For the Pirates (8-9, 3-4) it was the first road victory in six tries. Georgetown lost for the fourth time in their last five games.
Seton Hall rallied from a four-point deficit with just over two minutes left in regulation and took a 74-72 lead with 10 seconds left on an alley-oop dunk by forward Damion Fray off an inbounds pass with two seconds on the shot clock. Gerald Riley drove nearly the length of the court and created overtime with a layin.
Riley hit an 18-footer from the left wing and made the free throw after being fouled on the first possession of overtime -- and a foul shot by backup point guard Drew Hall on their second kept the Hoyas ahead by two.
Then Allen hit a 10-foot fade and Barrett followed with a long three-pointer from the left wing. After Hall's looping pass was intercepted, Barrett dribbled through traffic and fed Sweet for the layin that lifted the Pirates to a five-point lead they increased in the next 96 seconds.
Down by 69-65 with 2:02 left in regulation, Seton Hall tied the game in 37 seconds, on two Allen jumpers sandwiched around the Pirates stealing an inbounds pass.
Even though they were playing for the second time in three nights, the Pirates had far more energy in the early going. Twice in the first seven minutes, they beat Georgetown down the court for fast-break baskets, once after a 15-foot jumper in the lane by Gerald Riley.
It frequently was worse when the Hoyas had a chance to get set on defense, with forward Greg Morton breaking free for a layin on one possession and freshman center Kelly Whitney faking Sweetney out of position and banking in an open three-footer. Another layup, by Fray off a feed by Barrrett, and a three-pointer by Greg Morris lifted the Pirates to a 26-15 lead midway through the first half.
"It was like three people being in the right position and one person not," guard Tony Bethel said. "It's little things like that, that fans don't notice. But it's killing us."
Esherick surely was as upset with the Hoyas on offense -- their turnovers and inclination to shoot very early in many possessions. Bethel twice lost the ball trying to force a drive and Riley's too-soft pass inside was intercepted.
From that 26-15 deficit, the Hoyas fought back behind more aggressive defense and inside baskets and foul shots by Sweetney. Riley and Bethel each contributed to the rally, and after front court reserve Victor Samnick hit a layin off a Bethel pass, Riley had a followup and Bethel knocked in a three from the key, the Hoyas cut the Seton Hall margin to 37-34 with 25 seconds left before halftime.
Midway through the second half, Sweetney gave Georgetown its first lead, 56-54, since the opening minutes with a short flip. But he was caught with his fourth and fifth fouls within a two-minute stretch.