- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2001


BOISE, Idaho Nat Burton picked an incredible moment to record the first buzzer-beater of his Georgetown career.

The reserve senior forward powered home a driving layup with less than one second remaining last night to lift the Hoyas to a 63-61 victory over seventh-seeded Arkansas in the opening round of the NCAA tournament's West Region at BSU Pavilion.

"I was only thinking about putting the ball in the basket," said Burton, who might have been Georgetown's fifth option on the floor. He waved away junior playmaker Kevin Braswell and held the ball near the 3-point arc with Arkansas guard Brandon Dean guarding him and the clock winding down under 10 seconds. "Dean played some great defense during the game, but I was trying to put him to sleep and then explode on him and go to the basket, which I did. I finished it off with my left hand, which Coach Esherick is always getting on me about in practice."

Georgetown will play the winner of last night's late game between Iowa State and Hampton tomorrow.

As Burton's basket dropped home almost simultaneously with the sound of the buzzer, the entire Georgetown bench went berserk, snowing under the 6-foot-4 District of Columbia native on the baseline. But the officials put a stop to the celebration almost immediately, reviewing the shot on the courtside monitor as both teams and nearly 20,000 fans looked on anxiously.

The ball clearly left Burton's hand before the buzzer, but the officials were checking whether the shot went up before the shot clock expired. No. 10 seed Georgetown (24-7) had taken possession with 35.8 seconds remaining, and the officials were checking whether the ball left his hand before the clock reached 0.8 seconds.

"We looked to see if it was a shot clock violation, and it was not," umpire Ted Hillary said after the game. "The ball was out of his hand [before the clock reached 0.8 seconds]."

After deliberating for approximately two minutes, the officials finally ruled Burton's basket good, and the Hoyas ran screaming from the court, with Esherick shaking his head in disbelief as he trailed his victorious team.

"I cannot be happier for how we won that game at the end because Nat has done just a great job for us and worked hard throughout his career," Esherick said. "And if I had to draw up a play and a person to make a shot at the end, I would have wanted it to be Nat. Now needless to say, I did not draw that play up. What I wanted to do was just get some ball movement and either go back to the bench with the score tied in overtime or win the ballgame. We just ran our motion offense. And Nat ran his summer league play.

"I thought with about six or seven seconds he was going to throw a bounce pass to Mike [Sweetney]. But when he kept hitching, I said, 'Oh, my goodness, what is he going to do?' But he did the correct thing by taking it right at the basket."

The shot came after nearly 40 minutes of brawling, aesthetically horrifying hoops. Both Arkansas (20-11) and Georgetown specialize in making teams look bad with defensive intensity. And when the two were brought together, the result was an exponentially messy game.

The Hoyas trailed by as much as 52-45 midway through the half but clawed back down the stretch with some brilliant defense and strong work inside by Sweetney (10 points, 12 rebounds) on the undersized Razorbacks, whom they outrebounded 28-12 after intermission.

Georgetown pulled ahead for the first time in the half on a running floater by Braswell (12 points, four assists) with 46.3 seconds remaining. But Arkansas answered immediately on a point-blank basket by super sophomore Joe Johnson (14 points) with 35.8 seconds left to set up the dramatic finish.

On that final possession, the Hoyas struggled over halfcourt against the Arkansas press with Braswell snuffed, and the ball simply wound up in Burton's hands.

"I just made a great play," Burton said. "I'll probably celebrate this tonight with my teammates, but at midnight it'll be over, and we'll start preparing for our second-round game."

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