- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2001

ANAHEIM, Calif. Last night it was Georgetown that took a vintage blue-and-gray beating.

All season long, the 10th-seeded Hoyas had specialized in pounding people mercilessly with wave after wave of big bodies. Georgetown (25-8) was the nation's second-best rebounding team, losing the battle of the boards only once all season. And not once this season had it met a team with the temerity, talent or depth in the frontcourt to challenge it inside.

Then came the Terps (24-10), a team that was collared all season with an image as soft as Georgetown's was rugged. Apparently reputations don't mean much in Sweet 16 games. Because last night at the Arrowhead Pond, the Terps didn't slide and glide their way to a 76-66 victory; Lonny Baxter and Co. thrashed the Hoyas at their own game, outrebounding, outhustling and outmuscling Georgetown.

"Every team that plays against us, coach [Craig Esherick] tells us they're going to change when they play against us they're going to play harder," Georgetown junior point guard Kevin Braswell said. "They are going to push and they are going to shove. Most teams say they were always doing that, so if you tell a team that in practice every day that Georgetown is going to push, bang and come to the boards hard then a team is going to have to respond to beat us."

Maryland responded all right, despite the fact that the Hoyas' defense smothered leading scorer Juan Dixon (11 points) and preseason All-American Terence Morris (four points). How? Because Georgetown could not stop Baxter (26 points, 14 rebounds), the 6-foot-8, 260-pounder from Silver Spring.

"Baxter was very physical," said Georgetown senior center Ruben Boumtje Boumtje, who was held scoreless by Baxter in his final college game. "He set the tone for them on both ends of the floor, and the rest of the team followed. It seemed like they beat us to every loose ball and every rebound. They killed us in those areas."

True enough. Maryland finished the game with a 51-41 advantage on the boards and scored 24 points in the paint to Georgetown's 12 the two stats that literally made the game-breaking difference for Georgetown.

All three primary Georgetown pivot pounders struggled Boumtje Boumtje, freshman forward Mike Sweetney (10 points) and sophomore center Wesley Wilson (four points). In 27 minutes of combined second-half playing time, the three combined to score just two points, as Maryland gradually turned a 38-36 lead at intermission into a comfortable victory.

"I can't wait to get back to the gym," said the 6-8, 260-pound Sweetney, the team's leading scorer and rebounder this season. "I'm going to work myself to the bone this summer, because tonight showed me that I need to be quicker, bigger and stronger."

The Hoyas, who return four of five starters next season, had their chances to pull away in the first half against the Terps. But twice they fell prey to momentum-killing plays by underclassmen.

With Georgetown ahead 25-21 and just under six minutes remaining before intermission, Sweetney brought the ball over halfcourt and then decided to display his dribbling prowess. Morris swiped the ball from him, and Sweetney responded by grabbing Morris as he streaked the other way. Sweetney was whistled for an intentional foul, and Maryland converted the mistake into a four-point play to tie the game with 5:41 remaining in the half.

The Hoyas again clawed ahead, claiming a 36-31 lead on a pair of free throws by Kevin Braswell with 2:03 remaining. Georgetown then stifled a Maryland shot and ran the other way looking for a commanding margin, but sophomore leaper Demetrius Hunter tried a flashy, tomahawk jam, instead of the conventional two-handed variety. The ball clanged off the back of the iron, Maryland rebounded and the miss seemed to jolt Georgetown's confidence.

The Hoyas did not score again in the half, and Maryland reeled off seven straight points, taking a 38-36 lead into the locker room and beginning a 13-2 run from which the Hoyas never fully recovered.


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