- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 2, 2003

SOUTH BEND, Ind. There was no one Georgetown could blame for this one.
It wasn't the referees' fault and it wasn't because there were six men on the court. In fact, coach Craig Esherick and the Hoyas (Mike Sweetney excluded, of course) need only to look in the mirror to find the reason why they didn't leave Notre Dame yesterday with an upset victory over the No.11 Fighting Irish.
After rallying from a 15-point deficit to tie, Georgetown had a chance to win at the end of regulation. The Hoyas called time out with 15 seconds remaining and Esherick diagrammed a potential game-winning play. It was a golden opportunity to steal a road win against a ranked team.
However, the play was so poorly executed the Hoyas didn't even get off a shot.
It took two overtimes and a career-high 36 points from guard Matt Carroll that included six of 12 3-pointers before Notre Dame once again beat the reeling Hoyas 93-92 before 11,418 at Joyce Convocation Center.
The game was reminiscent of last February's four-overtime game between the schools, when Notre Dame outlasted the Hoyas 116-111 at MCI Center.
"I don't know what it is with Georgetown and overtimes," said Carroll, who joined a long list of Big East guards who have torched the Hoyas this season. "If it takes three overtimes, four overtimes or two overtimes, we're going to keep fighting until we get a win."
Said Esherick of his team's second straight overtime loss and seventh in eight games during his three-year tenure: "I'm becoming an expert on explaining on what we've done at the end of an overtime loss."
The Hoyas lost to Seton Hall 93-82 on Wednesday when the Pirates had six men on the court for the final seconds of regulation.
Yesterday's loss was the Hoyas' third straight and fifth in six games. Georgetown (10-7, 2-5 Big East) finds itself just a half-game ahead of Rutgers for last place in the Big East's West Division. The top six teams in each division qualify for the conference tournament.
"We made a lot of mental errors at the end of the game, which we need to correct," said power forward Sweetney, who had a career-high 38 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks, three assists and two steals. "We can't keep talking about it. We need to start doing it, because it's getting toward the end and we need as many wins as possible."
Georgetown did have that chance at the end of regulation, but it seemed no one wanted the responsibility of taking the last shot.
The play was designed to go inside to Sweetney, but the ball never got that far. Darrell Owens, Gerald Riley and Brandon Bowman passed it around the perimeter, and all three passed up open looks before the horn sounded with game tied 69-69.
"We tried to get the ball into Mike and it didn't work," Esherick said.
Said Irish coach Mike Brey, a coaching disciple of DeMatha High School's now-retired Morgan Wootten: "Their perimeter all of a sudden had some looks after making post feeds for 30 minutes, but it's a little different when the game is on the line to shoot that thing."
In the first overtime, the Irish (18-3, 6-1) led by three twice, but the Hoyas tied it on a 3-pointer by Drew Hall with 4.4 seconds left. Notre Dame's Chris Thomas nearly ended the game in the first overtime, taking an off-balance 15-footer at the buzzer, but the ball bounced around and hung on the rim for a moment before falling out.
The Irish opened an 88-83 lead in the second overtime when Dan Miller, a transfer from Maryland, sank a free throw with 2:13 left. But Hall hit a 3-pointer, Sweetney scored inside and Hall made a pair of free throws with 10.9 seconds left as the Hoyas used a 7-2 run to tie the score 92-92.
The Irish took the ball upcourt immediately instead of calling time out.
"They were frenzied and fouling us, hand checking, and I thought whoever we could get it to, just drive, take it all the way to the hole and see what we could get out of it," Brey said.
Torrian Jones drove hard to the basket, and the Hoyas thought he traveled, but Darrel Owens was called for the foul. Jones hit the game-winning free throw.
Georgetown had a last chance to win. With 5.5 seconds left, backup point guard Hall launched a 40-footer that bounced hard off the backboard. There appeared to be enough time for Georgetown to get a better shot, but Hall didn't seem to be getting any instruction from the Georgetown bench and put up the prayer.
"I don't think this team deserves this," Hall said. "We worked so hard."
Thomas scored 24 points for the Irish before fouling out with 3:55 left, the first time in two years he's fouled out of a game. Miller added 11 rebounds. Riley and Wesley Wilson each had 15 for the Hoyas and Hall 10.
Carroll, who hit 11 of his 20 shots, scored the 260th 3-pointer of his career making him the school's all-time leader in that category.
"I was feeling pretty good today," Carroll said.
Georgetown's guards didn't have an answer for Carroll all game, but Esherick refused to criticize his players.
"We didn't do a bad job of covering him," the coach said. "We knew where he was most of the time, and he hit a lot of tough shots."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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