- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2003

NEW YORK Perhaps it was only fitting that a turnover ended Georgetown's dream of an NCAA tournament berth.
For 39 minutes, the Hoyas slugged it out with No.11 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden. But with less than 30 seconds left and the Hoyas trailing by two points, freshman guard Ashanti Cook made an ill-advised entry pass to Mike Sweetney in the lane.
The ball was tipped away and any chance the Hoyas had of upsetting the Orangemen disappeared with it as Syracuse posted a 74-69 victory in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.
This has been the story of Georgetown's season: poor offensive execution down the stretch. Eleven of the Hoyas' 14 losses have been by 10 or fewer points, three by one. They are also 1-3 in overtime games.
Syracuse freshman phenom Carmelo Anthony scored 12 of his team-high 21 points in the second half. Syracuse senior guard Kueth Duany added 16 points as Syracuse (24-4) advanced to the tournament's semifinals against the winner of last night's late Seton Hall-Connecticut game.
Georgetown (15-14) now must wait until Sunday night to find out if and who it will play in the 32-team NIT. The possibility of Georgetown being a host is virtually non-existent with the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals in season, unless the Hoyas can swing a game at tiny McDonough Arena. Most likely, they'll hit the road throughout the NIT.
Sweetney, who finished with a game-high 29 points and 13 rebounds for his 36th career double-double, took full blame for the crucial turnover at the end of the game.
With the Hoyas trailing 69-67, Cook telegraphed his pass into Sweetney off the left wing. Syracuse center Craig Forth appeared to reach around Sweetney and poke the ball away to Duany with 14 seconds left on the game clock.
"[Forth] hit my hand, and it just slipped out of my hand," Sweetney said. "I don't know what went on. It was a good pass. It was my mistake."
After being swept by the Orangemen during the regular season, the Hoyas were determined to avoid the trifecta. Twice in the first half, the Hoyas raced out to eight-point leads, only to have Syracuse storm right back.
"I am certainly sick of playing them, I can tell you that," Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said of the Orangemen.
As usual, Sweetney carried the Hoyas in the half with 14 points. In this game, the Hoyas had the presence of mind to get the ball inside to their main man. In Wednesday's 46-41 first-round win over shorthanded Villanova, the Hoyas could not do so as Sweetney, a first-team all-Big East selection, finished with just 12 points 10 below his 22.7 average in that game.
In less than a day, Esherick corrected his team's offense, and the Hoyas took a 41-39 lead into the locker room against the powerful Orangemen, who some believe may be a Final Four team.
Part of Georgetown's first-half success, was that it kept the Orangemen off the glass with a 19-12 rebounding edge. Coming into this game, rebounding was an area that concerned Esherick because in the second meeting of the season between these teams March 1, the Orangemen slaughtered the Hoyas on the glass 60-43 the third-highest rebounding total in league history.
The 6-foot-8 Sweetney made sure Syracuse would not crush the Hoyas again with six rebounds in the first half.
Cook gave the Hoyas a lift off the bench scoring eight points in the half. Cook, who missed 10 games this season with a bad right ankle, rescued Georgetown's backcourt. Starters Tony Bethel and Gerald Riley combined to shoot two of nine from the field.
Syracuse dug in defensively in the game's final minutes. Coach Jim Boeheim's patented 2-3 zone took away Sweetney during crunch time. Sweetney suffered through a six-minute scoring drought from 6:21 to the last four seconds of the game, when he hit a layup with 4.1 seconds left that cut Syracuse's lead to 73-69.
"They were looking for him pretty hard for a long time," Boeheim said. "We didn't give much up in the last three or four minutes."

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