- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2001

GEORGETOWN 99, SETON HALL 91

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Georgetown dares you to find a doubter now.

The ninth-ranked Hoyas came to the midpoint of their shocking season with just one unanswered question nagging at their critics. What would happen when the Hoyas played a ranked team on the road? Last night before a national TV audience and 11,878 hostile fans at Continental Airlines Arena, Georgetown supplied a powerful answer. Carried by another dominating defensive effort and the stellar play of junior point guard Kevin Braswell, the Hoyas dropped No. 18 Seton Hall 99-91 to earn the program's first road win over a ranked team since a victory over Syracuse in February 1995.

Courtesy of their second win over Big East West division favorite Seton Hall in just nine days, the Hoyas (16-0, 4-0 Big East) enjoy a major edge in the division and are just two victories short of the best start in school history. Georgetown can move within one of the record, established by the 1984-85 team that eventually lost in the national title game, with a win over Pittsburgh on Saturday at MCI Center.

"This team has surprised me since the beginning of the year," Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said after watching his team dispatch the Pirates (11-5, 2-3) in virtual tip-to-buzzer fashion. "I didn't think we would be this good on the road. But we have now won three games at neutral sites and four on the road. I didn't think we had the experience to be able to do that. But they've done an extremely good job of handling things when other teams make runs at us, and I think that's a tribute to Kevin. He has truly become a point guard."

Last night, Braswell conjured memories of his brilliance at last year's Big East tournament with his 26-point, five-assist performance. The junior from Baltimore brought the Hoyas back from an early deficit and then helped keep the team composed as Seton Hall mounted charge after charge in the second half.

The Hoyas led by as many as 14 in the first half and never trailed after a 3-pointer by senior gunner Anthony Perry (11 points) gave them a 34-33 lead midway through the first frame. But unlike the game 10 days ago at MCI Center in which Seton Hall folded down the stretch, the Pirates never quit last night. Freshman point guard Andre Barrett (19 points, seven assists, five steals) was superb, jitterbugging his way through the Georgetown defense to keep the Hall surging from behind. A five-point outburst from Barrett, followed by a baseline jumper from offguard Darius Lane (15 points, eight rebounds) pulled the Pirates within 75-74 with 9:14 remaining.

But in a possession that served as a microcosm for the entire affair, Braswell calmly brought the ball up the court amid the din that followed, shook Barrett at the top of the key and buried a 3-pointer from 23 feet that gave the Hoyas a working margin that would never again be challenged. Time and again during the game's deciding minutes, Braswell held the ball out top, blew past his defender and either earned trips to the line or found wide open teammates as the Hoyas salted away the game.

"This team doesn't panic because the older guys have seen every situation before, and we know that if we keep our defensive intensity and look for each other, things will work out," Braswell said. "That's just what this team has been doing all year. It's not any one guy. We just click together at the right times and make things work."

That chemistry is perhaps the biggest difference between the Hoyas and Pirates. While Georgetown shot better than 46 percent from the field thanks to solid shot selection and routinely making the extra pass, Seton Hall had only Barrett earning quality looks for his teammates.

Just as they did in the Hall's 78-66 loss at MCI on Jan. 5, Lane and superfrosh Eddie Griffin often got caught up in their own games, forcing shots instead of finding open teammates. Though Lane played far better than he did the first time the teams met, Griffin must have experienced some eerie deja vu at game's end. Just like at MCI, when the Hoyas held last year's top prep player scoreless over the final 16 minutes, Griffin disappeared down the stretch last night, scoring only three points and making only one of his five second-half shots.

"Instead of focusing on what we did wrong, maybe we should look at what they did right," Seton Hall coach Tommy Amaker said. "We were just beaten by a better team tonight… . They have a lot of weapons. They are very deep. We just couldn't get over the hump and put them in any kind of danger zone. I thought Braswell held everything together for them he scored, handled the ball. And their front line wore us down. They are certainly deserving of everything that's been said about them."


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