- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 6, 2002

PISCATAWAY, N.J. Georgetown is mired in such a slump that it found a way to lose three times to Rutgers in the same night.
Hoyas swingman Victor Samnick missed an uncontested 12-footer with three seconds left in overtime last night, enabling the Scarlet Knights to steal an 89-87 victory at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
Georgetown (9-5, 0-2 Big East), which entered the week ranked No. 24, has lost four consecutive games for the first time since 1992-93. The Hoyas will try to avoid tying a dubious record of five straight failures when they return to the court next Saturday at No. 11 Boston College. Since the inception of the Big East conference in 1979-80, the Hoyas have lost five straight games only once.
"I told the guys after the game that it's only January 5 and we have a lot of basketball left to play," said Georgetown coach Craig Esherick, looking more despondent than at any time during his four-year run with the Hoyas. "We've got a week off before our next game at BC, and we have to recover. But it's going to be a tough one to get over."
It's going to torture Esherick and the gang because it was a game that never should have come down to Samnick's last-second shot. The Hoyas squandered three sizeable leads against Rutgers (10-4, 1-1 Big East), struggling with the Rutgers press, the raucous crowd and some extremely suspect officiating.
First, the Hoyas blew an 18-point first-half lead, allowing Rutgers to even the score at 50-50 on a hoop by middle man Rashod Kent with 15:02 remaining.
The Hoyas then scratched back to the brink of a double-digit lead at 74-65 thanks to the superb play of senior point man Kevin Braswell (20 points, five assists), who gave Georgetown the nine-point edge by knocking down two free throws with 5:54 remaining. But once again, the Hoyas' lead vanished in a sea of turnovers, missed shots and blocks by Rutgers sophomore forward Herve Lamizana (19 points, seven blocks). The Rutgers rally concluded with a 6-foot leaner by guard Mike Sherrod that tied the score at 80-80 with 13.3 seconds remaining. Braswell, who missed three times in the Hoyas' final five possessions in regulation, heaved up a midrange runner from the right wing just before the buzzer, but Lamizana got just enough of the shot to force overtime.
In the extra period, the Hoyas once again surged ahead, this time behind sophomore power forward Mike Sweetney (26 points, 13 rebounds). Sweetney was unstoppable all night despite being regularly double-teamed. And the 6-foot-8, 260-pounder hit a turnaround jumper and then completed a 3-point play from the line to put the Hoyas ahead 85-80 with 3:55 remaining in overtime.
But Rutgers simply would not fade, rallying one final time behind Lamizana, who hit a 3-pointer with 2:05 left to tie the score at 85-85. After Rutgers guard Ricky Shields made one of two free throws and Sweetney answered with a layin to put the Hoyas ahead 87-86, Lamizana went back to work again. The 6-10 sophomore backed down Georgetown swingman Gerald Riley and then spun to attempt a 10-footer for the lead. Lamizana's shot drew nothing but iron, but the officials whistled a foul on Riley to send Lamizana to the line with 13.2 seconds remaining.
Lamizana calmly stroked home the two tosses to put Rutgers ahead by one. Georgetown then took a timeout to set up a final play. Braswell took the inbounds pass, streaked the length of the court and flipped the ball to freshman guard Tony Bethel. Bethel tipped it to freshman Drew Hall, who whipped it to a wide-open Samnick.
But Samnick has never been known as a shooter, and his awkward jumper clanked harmlessly off the back of the rim and was collected by, of course, Lamizana. The sophomore was fouled with 1.5 seconds remaining, went to the other end and completed his career scoring night by making one of two free throws and deflecting Georgetown's desperate inbounds pass.
"Lamizana hit some big free throws for them," Esherick said. "But I don't know what to tell you right now. That's a loss that's going to stick with me for a long time. One of the reasons I think it's going to haunt me is because in certain stretches I thought we played our best basketball of the season tonight. We played well enough to get ourselves a little lead several times. But each time we got sloppy with the ball, and they got aggressive and we couldn't put them away. Yeah, this is going to be a tough one. It could haunt us."

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