- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2001

SETON HALL 58, GEORGETOWN 40

NEW YORK Not even novelist Thomas Harris could have scripted such a gruesome demise.

Georgetown's Big East tournament debut turned into a Hannibal Lecter-like feast for Seton Hall yesterday as the 18th-ranked Hoyas endured miserable shooting, scored an all-time tournament-low 40 points and absorbed an embarrassing 58-40 beating from the unranked, sixth-seeded Pirates at Madison Square Garden.

"This is one of those games that you wake up in the middle of the night having dreamed about and hope that you never have. We certainly had it tonight," Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said. "We could not shoot the ball at all… . I'd say from the middle of the first half until the end of the game, we just couldn't do anything right."

Georgetown (23-7) spent the afternoon plumbing shocking new shooting depths and rewriting all the wrong pages in its record books.

For the game, the Hoyas made just 17 of 58 shots from the field (29.3 percent) en route to by far their lowest scoring output of the season. Georgetown entered the game averaging 80.3 points.

The point total was the program's second-lowest in 50 years. Ironically, the Hoyas' 37-36 victory over Southern Methodist in the first round of the 1984 NCAA tournament en route to their only national title was the lowest.

The Hoyas' 40 points tied for the fewest ever in Big East tournament play; the only other time a team scored so few points in the tournament was when Georgetown beat Miami by 27 in the opening round in 1993. The Hoyas' second-lowest tournament output was 20 years ago in a 67-53 loss to Syracuse. And just to complete the picture of statistical futility, the 18-point loss represented the most lopsided defeat in the program's Big East tournament history.

Who was responsible? One person doesn't have enough hands to carry out the necessary finger-pointing the wretched performance was program-wide.

Junior point man Kevin Braswell, the squad's leader and most consistent contributor, was held scoreless for the first time all season, going 0-for-6. Starting swingman Gerald Riley joined Braswell in that dubious category, missing seven shots. And sophomore guard Demetrius Hunter, who had made nearly 50 percent of his 3-pointers over the last month, hit just one of seven attempts.

On the inside, senior center Ruben Boumtje Boumtje (eight points, seven rebounds) and freshman power forward Mike Sweetney (six points) vanished at intermission, combining to score just two second-half points. Some of that ineffectiveness was brought on by Esherick's chaotic substitution pattern. The coach benched Boumtje Boumtje and Sweetney for long periods during the closing half, handing the ball instead to reserve forward Lee Scruggs, who led the team with a paltry 12 points despite some spotty shooting of his own.

"I probably won't be able to forget about this game until … who knows?," Braswell said after what he called the most disappointing game of his career. "It's going to always be in my head, because we shouldn't come in here and lose like this… . We shot the ball horribly, and a lot of it was because of [Seton Hall]. They were very intense… . We haven't had teams contest every shot like they did."

Georgetown had beaten Seton Hall twice during the regular season, 78-66 and 99-91. But the Pirates (16-13), who finally seem to be overcoming the chemistry problems that plagued them all season, played far better defense against the Hoyas yesterday than in the earlier meetings. After the Hoyas plodded to a 17-9 lead with 11:55 remaining in the first half, the Pirates raised their energy level on the defensive end, denying inside position to the blue and gray big men and harassing every Georgetown jumper.

The Hoyas staggered at first in the face of such a challenge and the Pirates trimmed the lead to 24-23 on a pair of free throws by freshman point guard Andre Barrett (12 points, five assists) with 2:16 remaining in the half.

And then the Hoyas completely withered, making just two field goals during a 13-minute stretch that overlapped halftime. Seton Hall responded with a 26-5 run, pushing the lead to 49-29 before Scruggs finally made the Hoyas' second field goal of the second half with 8:56 remaining and the game effectively over.

"They were always a good team in the preseason they were ranked very high," Braswell said. "We beat them two games in the regular season, but anytime you do that, you know a team is going to be hungry to play you. We heard their comments yesterday, saying, 'We want Georgetown.' I guess they did, and they showed it today."

Georgetown now faces a lonely wait until Sunday, when it will learn its NCAA tournament fate. The selection committee isn't likely to smile on such an ugly loss, and the Hoyas may fall to a No. 6 or No. 7 seed in next week's big bracket. Even worse, however, the team has lost all of the momentum it built up with victories over ranked Syracuse and Notre Dame in the last two weeks.

"We have to put it behind us, there's no doubt about that, but it's going to be hard," Braswell said. "But I know we've got the kind of team that can bounce back after something like this. There will probably be a lot of people out there saying, 'Oh yeah, that's [the real] Georgetown.' Those are the same people that didn't think we could beat Syracuse or Notre Dame. So we've come back before when people didn't think we could. And we have to bounce back, because it's [NCAA] tournament time now, and there are no more second chances."

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