- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

Tony Bethel to the rescue.
Georgetown's sophomore point guard saved the Hoyas from a near-disastrous defeat in their Big East opener against West Virginia yesterday when he forced overtime with a double-pump 3-pointer from the left wing with 2.1 seconds left in regulation.
Then in the extra session, Georgetown's Mike Sweetney took over and scored six of his team's 10 points to lead the Hoyas past the Mountaineers 84-82 before 8,945 at MCI Center.
The win shows how far the Hoyas have come. A year ago, they probably would have lost a game like this last season the Hoyas were winless in four overtime games.
Bethel, who grew up in Fort Washington, made sure the Hoyas (9-2) didn't waste a stellar effort from their big man Sweetney, something they did several times last season.
Sweetney tied his career high with 35 points and had 19 rebounds (one short of his career high), five blocks, four assists and three steals. And yet, despite Sweetney's heroics, the game seemed to be lost in the waning seconds of regulation.
West Virginia (9-4, 1-1 Big East) led 74-71 with 13 seconds left and had possession. However, Mountaineers forward Tyrone Sally threw the ball away on an ill-advised crosscourt pass. Georgetown took over and Victor Samnick, Georgetown's designated stopper, missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with nine seconds left.
The two teams scrambled for the rebound and the ball went out of bounds to Georgetown. Drew Hall, the Hoyas' backup point guard, inbounded to Bethel who took one dribble to his left and pulled up on Mountaineers 6-foot-10 freshman forward Kevin Pittsnogle. The 6-2 Bethel hung in the air for an instant, brought the ball down slightly, and then released the biggest shot of his young career.
"We had a play called Box where the big man sets a screen on the elbow for the guard to come off and they knew our play because they scouted us," Bethel said. "The big man [Pittsnogle] switched and he came out. I figured if I could take a dribble I could get away from him and have a cleaner look, but he stayed with me. I knew the time was running down, so I put up the shot and it went in."
In the overtime, Pittsnogle almost single-handedly gave the game to the Hoyas. Georgetown took an 82-80 lead and West Virginia had the ball looking to tie, but Sweetney stripped Pittsnogle near midcourt with 1:02 left. Then with 16 seconds showing and the Hoyas still up 82-80, Pittsnogle hit the side of the backboard on an ugly driving move from the right wing. He got his rebound and then hoisted an airball from 12 feet with 13 seconds left.
Fittingly, Bethel grabbed Pittsnogle's airball and was immediately fouled. He sank both free throws for an insurmountable lead. West Virginia added a basket with less than a second to play.
"I don't think it needed to come down to my shot," said Bethel of his overtime-forcing heave. "Mike was unbelieveable."
Indeed he was, but the Hoyas blew a 63-52 lead with 7:15 left to play in regulation. They allowed West Virginia to go on a 22-6 run over the next six minutes and open a 74-69 lead with 1:02 left. Two Mountaineers turnovers both throwaways against Georgetown's man-to-man press in the last 35 seconds allowed the Hoyas to stay alive.
"We just threw it away," said West Virginia first-year coach John Beilein. "It's like you have the game won and there is a two-hopper to the shortstop and you throw it away and another guy comes up to the plate. We gave them too many chances to win the game."
Georgetown coach Craig Esherick might say the officials gave the Mountaineers a few chances, too.
Esherick went on a five-minute post-game tirade blasting the officials about calling his team for hand-checking West Virginia on the perimeter while Sweetney was getting mugged in the lane. Esherick angrily confronted officials in front of a service elevator that leads to MCI Center's underground parking garage.
His timing couldn't have been worse because Art Hyland, the Big East's director of referees, attended yesterday's game. It remains to be seen if the coach will be suspended for tomorrow's game at Seton Hall (5-7, 0-3) after his encounter with the refs and his scathing comments.

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