- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2003

Call it the "Great Collapse."
Georgetown had a 16-point lead over St. John's yesterday with 7:23 left, a 12-point advantage with 4:22 left, a six-point edge with 2:49 showing and a three-point lead with 2:04 left. Get the picture?
St. John's guard Marcus Hatten scored 19 of his career high-matching 34 points in the final 6:21 to rally the Red Storm to a shocking 77-72 victory over the Hoyas before 11,777 at MCI Center. It was Georgetown's first home loss of the season.
Tuesday's 14-point loss to a marginal Seton Hall team was disappointing and frustrating, but yesterday's meltdown is the kind that can hang over a team for the rest of the season, and coach Craig Esherick knows it.
"We gave away a game," said Esherick, whose team is 9-4, 1-2 in the Big East. "This is certainly disappointing. It's the 13th game of the season and we've got a lot of basketball left to play but we've got to recover from this. This is going to be a tough game to recover from because of how we lost the game."
Now the Hoyas face an uphill battle. The Big East, arguably the best conference in the country, can make recovering difficult. There are no breathers in conference play for the Hoyas, especially when Seton Hall and St. John's were expected to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack.
If the Hoyas are to regroup, they'll have to do it against Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse, all ranked teams that Georgetown plays twice. The fact that Georgetown is winless in three road games this season doesn't make the future any brighter.
"Hopefully, we can capitalize on the big games. We've just got to win, and that's all there is to it," said sophomore point guard Tony Bethel, who fouled out and finished with 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
But if ever there was a game that should have been a win, it was yesterday's. The Hoyas insist they did not think the game was over when they enjoyed their comfortable leads. St. John's coach Mike Jarvis wasn't confident with his team trailing 63-47 with 7:23 left.
"I thought we were going to get beat by 30, but I'd rather get beat by 30 trying to win than lose by six or eight trying to get closer," said Jarvis, who is 5-0 against Georgetown. "I thought everything had to go right for us to have a chance and we had to be lucky and they would have to make some mistakes, and all those things happened."
Georgetown held a 67-55 lead with 4:22 to play, but the Hoyas turned the ball over seven times afterward, wilting under the Red Storm's fullcourt press. For the game, the Hoyas committed a season-high 24 turnovers.
Mike Sweetney, Georgetown's leading scorer and rebounder, led his team with 21 points but uncharacteristically also led the Hoyas with six turnovers. The Red Storm (9-5, 2-2) scored 37 of their points off Georgetown miscues.
"At the end of the games, we can't close them out that's the same mistake we made last year," Sweetney said. "We don't know how to close games out."
Hatten certainly did.
The 6-foot-1 Baltimore native, held to just 11 first-half points, turned into a one-man wrecking crew in the second. Hatten, who came into the game as the Big East's third-leading scorer (22.5), spent much of the second half driving around and through the Hoyas.
Gerald Riley, the Hoyas' starting shooting guard, did a nice defensive job on Hatten in the first half but fouled out with 4:10 left. That seemed to inspire Hatten, who scored 14 points in the final 3:18 as Bethel and backup point guard Drew Hall were unable to stop him.
With Georgetown leading 69-66 and 2:04 left, Hatten nailed an NBA-distance 3-pointer to tie it 69-69. Hatten gave St. John's the lead for good after Sweetney threw the ball away as freshman forward Brandon Bowman fell down coming toward the ball. Hatten scooped it up and converted an easy layup to make it 71-70 with 1:26 left.
On Georgetown's next possession, reserve forward Victor Samnick threw the ball away trying to force it inside to Sweetney. After working off some clock, Hatten scored on a driving layup with 34 seconds to push the lead to 73-70.
The Hoyas, trailing 75-72, had a chance to perhaps force overtime, but Red Storm freshman point guard Elijah Ingram (12 points) stripped the ball from Hall with 15 seconds left. St. John's ran out the clock to hand the Hoyas their fourth loss in the last six games.
"It's one of those games because [the collapse] happened so late and so quick, they didn't have a chance to regroup," Jarvis said.


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