- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 30, 2001

LOS ANGELES It's probably still raining UCLA 3-pointers at Pauley Pavilion.
Georgetown faced the Bruins for the first time yesterday in the legendary lair of John Wooden, and 15th-ranked UCLA buried the Hoyas 98-91 under a hail of bombs from behind the arc.
"UCLA is too good a team for us to let them have open looks," said Georgetown coach Craig Esherick after watching the Bruins drill seven of nine first-half 3-pointers en route to a 55-35 lead. "Every time we left them open, they burned us. … But I was proud of the way the guys kept fighting back, because they could have quit. We made three great runs at them, but we just didn't have quite enough."
The Hoyas (9-3), who have lost consecutive games for the first time this season, return to the floor Wednesday at MCI Center against Miami in their Big East opener.
There were three key factors in yesterday's loss to the Bruins (9-2). The first was UCLA's long-range success. With Georgetown overplaying UCLA star sniper Jason Kapono, who entered the game averaging just more than 20 points, UCLA's normal supporting cast Matt Barnes (19 points) and Billy Knight (20 points) found themselves thrust into leading roles. The senior tandem shredded the Georgetown defense from deep, nailing seven of their 10 triples to provide the primary impetus behind UCLA's victory.
But the Bruins received a fair amount of help from a turnover-ridden first half and a vanishing act by one of Georgetown's primary offensive weapons. The Hoyas committed a staggering 16 turnovers before intermission, most on ill-advised passes and traveling violations perhaps partially inspired by the raucous crowd of 10,423. And those ball-handling errors were compounded on the offensive end by the horrid performance of junior center Wesley Wilson.
The 6-foot-11 Wilson, who entered the game averaging 15.3 points and 7.5 rebounds, completely disappeared against the Bruins. Wilson, who was being counted upon to help slow down UCLA's 7-foot Dan Gadzuric (18 points), failed to score, collect a rebound or defend Gadzuric before being benched after 10 first-half minutes.
"I decided to rest him in the second half," Esherick said. "He looked like he needed rest."
A native of nearby Vallejo, Calif., Wilson perhaps had trouble handling the emotion involved in his homecoming. Whatever the case, the worst game of his career left a huge void in the middle for the Hoyas, and both Mike Sweetney (19 points, 17 rebounds) and Courtland Freeman fouled out trying to take up the slack inside.
"This is the second straight game where guys haven't showed up ready to play and teams have jumped out on us early," said senior co-captain Kevin Braswell (22 points), obviously sending a message to Wilson. "It happened against Virginia [on Dec . 20] and then again today. That can't happen. Guys can't just stand around and watch me and Mike play for the first 10 minutes. They have to step up if we're going to beat ranked teams.
"Gerald Riley [18 points] stepped up today," Braswell continued. "Big Harv [Harvey Thomas] and Courtland [Freeman] and Tony [Bethel] and Drew [Hall] stepped up today. But we all have to come ready to go from the tip if we want to be a great team.
"It's frustrating, because I feel like we would have beaten both Virginia and UCLA if everybody had been charged up and ready to go. As it was, we spotted UCLA a 20-point lead. And not many teams can come back from 20 down against a ranked team on the road. We darn near did it, but we shouldn't have had to."
Thanks to the play of Braswell, Riley, Sweetney and Bethel, Georgetown trimmed the UCLA lead (which stood at 22 points with 17:09 remaining) to eight or fewer points three times. The Hoyas' last meaningful run ended with Freeman's tip that cut the deficit to 77-69 with four minutes remaining.
But without Sweetney, who had fouled out a minute earlier trying to defend Gadzuric, the Bruins responded to the run by pounding the ball inside to Gadzuric for a 7-0 mini-run that put UCLA ahead 84-69 with two minutes remaining. The Hoyas worked the foul-and-fling strategy after that, Braswell and Bethel exchanging 3-pointers at one end for UCLA free throws at the other.
But despite the relatively close final margin, the outcome was really never in doubt down the stretch.
"The way we lost the last two games is really inexcusable," said Sweetney. "We weren't all ready to play, and that allowed teams to get huge leads on us. Take away those poor starts, and we outplayed both teams. Now it's gut check time against Miami. It's high time for us to respond."

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