- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 26, 2003

PITTSBURGH There was a street fight scheduled for noon yesterday at Petersen Events Center, and a basketball game broke out.
Rodney Dangerfield might have made that assessment after watching yesterday's Georgetown-Pittsburgh clash that seemed to include more hand-to-hand combat than a gladiators' duel and all the fluidity of freshly poured cement.
Going toe to toe with the second-ranked team in the nation, the Hoyas slugged their way to a draw with the Panthers after Brandon Bowman's two free throws tied the game with 3.5 seconds remaining. Then they let their guard down when Julius Page caught a 50-foot inbounds pass past halfcourt, was fouled and made a free throw with four-tenths of a second left for the final margin in a 65-64 Pittsburgh victory before a frenzied sellout crowd.
The defeat was a bitter end for the Hoyas, who almost scored a great upset and gained a much-needed road victory against a Big East West Division rival. Instead, they fell to 0-4 on the road and dropped their second-one point decision to Pitt (15-1, 5-0 Big East) in their last three meetings.
"I really thought we came into this game thinking we could and should win," said Georgetown coach Craig Esherick. "I thought certainly we made some mistakes, and at the very least that the game should have gone into overtime."
Esherick said the decisive play was one he yearned to play over. He didn't specify where the breakdown occurred, but the Hoyas should have at least challenged the pass to Page, who was fouled by Drew Hall. The Panthers were trying to get the ball to Carl Krauser, so Page was a secondary option.
The breakdown cost the Hoyas a chance at overtime. Otherwise, Georgetown (10-5, 2-3) did just about all it could to break Pittsburgh's 16-game homecourt winning streak, returning the Panthers' physical play with some real muscle of their own.
The teams took turns hacking each other a combined 58 fouls were assessed and trekking to the free throw line (Pittsburgh shot 41 to the Hoyas' 26). Georgetown played tough against the second-best rebounding team statistically in Division I, outrebounding Pitt 35-29. The Hoyas' big men held their own, and they got help on the glass from a multitude of players.
The physicality evident in the teams' hard fouls and rebounding carried on after the whistle as well. There were several incidents of shoving and jawing when the ball was dead, including one that resulted in technical fouls on Pittsburgh's Brandin Knight and the Hoyas' Drew Hall. Three Hoyas fouled out and five Panthers had at least four fouls.
"We knew they were going to try to push us, shove and crash the offensive boards," Georgetown guard Tony Bethel said. "We came in knowing that's what we do, that's our game. And we came out and played it."
Said Pitt coach Ben Howland: "[The Hoyas] are physical. They wrote the book on physical play."
Mike Sweetney helped write that book, but he could manage only 12 points against a swarming defense, 14 below his Big East average. Sweetney did have two crucial late baskets, but freshman Brandon Bowman and sophomore Bethel carried the Hoyas' offensive load by scoring 16 points apiece.
Esherick defensed the Panthers with zone schemes throughout the game, and the tactic completely threw them off in the first half. The Hoyas forced nine turnovers and 27 percent shooting by Pitt in the first half, which ended with Georgetown leading 29-25.
The Panthers took their first lead at 36-35 with 16:04 to play and stretched the advantage to 48-39 with 12:03 left. The Hoyas, behind two baskets by Bowman, scored nine straight points to tie it with 8:59 left, setting up the tight finish.
Pittsburgh settled down offensively in the second half, making 11 of its 17 field goal attempts. Many came on high-percentage shots as the Panthers exercised the patience that has made them the second-best shooting team in Division I. Reserve forward Chevon Troutman did the most damage, making all five of his field goals. And although he entered the game shooting just 43 percent from the line, he was 10-for-10 on free throws against the Hoyas.
Pitt, the Big East's worst free throw shooting team, escaped despite shooting 58.5 percent (24 of 41) . However, the Panthers made them when it mattered, connecting on 10 of their final 14 attempts.

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