- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2003

PISCATAWAY, N.J. A season that began with enormous NCAA tournament potential is now down to this: The Georgetown Hoyas are in last place in the Big East's West Division and appear on the verge of not qualifying for the conference tournament for the first time in school history.
Rutgers made seven of eight free throws in the final 2:15 as the Scarlet Knights sent Georgetown crashing to its sixth straight loss 66-59 before 6,831 last night at Rutgers Athletic Center.
For the game, Rutgers made 20 of 26 free throws. Guard Jerome Coleman, who finished with 11 points, went 6-for-6.
Georgetown (10-10, 2-7 Big East) has now lost eight of its past nine games and has seven games remaining. This was the ninth time this season the Hoyas have lost by 10 points or fewer. The loss dropped the Hoyas to 0-7 on the road, with a trip to surging Virginia Tech set for Saturday.
"We shouldn't be in this position right now," Georgetown forward Mike Sweetney said. "There is no way in the world I'm going to settle for staying at home during the Big East tournament."
The big man may not have a choice. Sweetney's 32nd career double-double was not enough to snap Georgetown's winless ways. Sweetney, who is the Big East's active double-double leader, finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
"That is the hardest he's ever had to [work] in his entire life," Rutgers coach Gary Waters said of Sweetney's double-double. "He had to work for that. It wasn't only a double-team, it was a physical double-team."
Georgetown's last win was against Rutgers on Jan.20 at MCI Center, when the Hoyas beat the Scarlet Knights by 10 points. In that game, Sweetney was virtually unstoppable with 27 points and 13 rebounds.
This time the Scarlet Knights (11-10, 3-6) made a few adjustments on Sweetney so he couldn't create wholesale damage like he did in the first meeting. Waters platooned his posts on Sweetney, giving Georgetown's main man a different look throughout the game, and double- and triple-teamed Sweetney whenever it was necessary.
In a see-saw first half, Sweetney was most of the Hoyas' offense. He scored 11 of Georgetown's 23 points.
For the most part, the first half was a back-and-forth defensive battle. There were 10 lead changes and four ties. Neither team led by more than four points.
The Hoyas went into their locker room trailing 27-23 because they turned over the ball on four straight possessions to end the half. Rutgers took advantage of Georgetown's sloppy play and closed the half with a 7-0 run in the final 1:34. Georgetown finished the half with 10 turnovers. For the game, Georgetown had 17.
Perhaps the bottom fell out of Georgetown's season on a 3-pointer by Ricky Shields, which tied the game at 23. The momentum swung to Rutgers, as Gerald Riley followed with a turnover by stepping over the baseline. Scarlet Knights backup center Kareem Wright followed by feeding forward Sean Axani for an easy dunk that gave Rutgers a 25-23 lead.
Then, Rutgers point guard Mike Sherrod put an exclamation point on his team's first half when he nailed 17-foot jumper just inside the 3-point arc with eight-tenths of a second left to give the Scarlet Knights a 27-23 halftime lead, their biggest lead of the game to that point.
Poor shooting has been Georgetown's signature during its collapse, and last night's first half was no exception. The Hoyas made six of 24 shots (25 percent) in the first half. Even the usually reliable Sweetney (3-for-8) struggled.
"We're not going to beat anybody with just six field goals at the half," Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said. "If I didn't have to feed my family, this [losing streak] would be funny, but it's not funny."
The Hoyas stayed close during the first 20 minutes because of their free throw shooting. Georgetown made 11 of 15 free throws in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights spread around the offensive wealth. Nine different players scored for Rutgers in the game. Shields led the Scarlet Knights with 12 points. Axani finished with 11 points, five blocks and four rebounds.

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