North Carolina 74
Georgetown had won its two previous National Invitation Tournament games in spite of poor shooting from its guards.
Tonight, the Hoyas won because of them.
Gerald Riley, Tony Bethel and Drew Hall combined for 33 second-half points as Georgetown held off North Carolina, 79-74, to advance to the tournament's semifinals. The Hoyas (18-14) will play the winner of Thursday's Minnesota-Temple game April 1 at a familiar site -- New York's Madison Square Garden.
Victories at Tennessee and Providence were accomplished with Riley, Bethel and Hall making 11 of 36 field-goal attempts. Against the Tar Heels (19-16), who were seeking to win 20 games for the 32nd time in 33 years, the trio made 13 of 24 attempts, including five three-pointers. Riley came up biggest of all, matching Mike Sweetney's team-high 22 points.
Still, for all the big baskets, none was bigger than Hall's lone three-pointer of the night -- and only the sophomore reserve's 13th of the season. The Hoyas were in the midst of a serious meltdown, having lost an eight-point lead that they had taken inside the four-minute mark.
On their previous possession, Sweetney had forced a shot against a triple team. This time, tied at 70, the burly all-Big East forward trusted his teammate when extra Tar Heels ran his way, spotting Hall alone on the right arc, nestled just beyond the three-point line.
"I wasn't going to make the same mistake again," Sweetney said. "I had forced a couple of shots and when they came at me, I was looking for help. Drew was right there and he buried it."
The shot provided Georgetown a three-point lead with 58 seconds to play.
When the Hoyas rebounded forward David Noel's missed three-point attempt on the Tar Heels' subsequent trip, all Georgetown needed was to make its free throws.
The Hoyas didn't disappoint. Fittingly, Riley, Hall and Bethel each made two, capping the victory in front of 15,043 and continuing Georgetown's improbable road run.
"We knew we'd be on the road as long as we were playing," said Sweetney. "With our little gym, we weren't going to have a home game, so we just gutted it up."
Three-pointers from Bethel and Riley pushed Georgetown to an eight-point lead in the second half, a margin the Hoyas comfortably maintained until Rashad McCants rallied the Tar Heels. The freshman guard scored 14 of his game-high 26 points in a three-minute stretch, the last of which tied the game at 70, setting up Hall's heroics.
"It was a game of big plays and they made more of them," McCants said. "Give them credit for that."
The travel-weary Hoyas are thrilled to still be playing, and just as thrilled that they'll be home for a few days.
"We beat Tennessee at Tennessee, Providence at Providence and North Carolina at North Carolina," Coach Craig Esherick said. "That's really something. I thought our guys did a great job at keeping their composure. I'm really proud of them."
* TEXAS TECH 80, GEORGIA TECH 72: In Lubbock, Tex., Andre Emmett scored 29 points to lead the Red Raiders over the Yellow Jackets, sending Bob Knight to the tournament's semifinals for the sixth time in his 37 years as a head coach.
It is the first time the Red Raiders have ever been one of the final four teams in any postseason tournament.
Texas Tech (21-12) used an 18-3 run in a four-minute stretch midway through the second half to break open the game. Up to the 13:04 mark in the second half, there were five ties and 12 lead changes.
Elder and Chris Bosh each scored 21 points for the Yellow Jackets.
Tech will play the winner of the UAB-St. John's match on Tuesday night.