- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Call it a loose-ball drill gone awry.

A mental blunder by Penn State in the final moments allowed Georgetown to escape with a 79-78 victory yesterday.

With the Nittany Lions clinging to a one-point lead, Penn State freshman guard Brandon Cameron fouled guard Ashanti Cook with 2.2 seconds left, steamrolling him on an inbounds play in the Hoyas frontcourt.

Already in the bonus and 1.1 seconds left, Cook calmly sank both free throws as Georgetown ruined Eddie DeChellis’ coaching debut in Happy Valley before 8,874 at Bryce Jordan Center.

Hoyas forward Brandon Bowman rolled the ball to Cook on the left side of Penn State’s basket on the inbounds play. Cameron, who sensed he could make the steal and seal Penn State’s win, collided with Cook going for the ball.

Referee Jim Burr whistled Cameron for plowing into Cook.

“I don’t think it was a foul, but referees make judgmental calls and they are human beings,” said Cameron, who finished with 12 points on four of 12 shooting. “It was a judgmental call, he made his decision, and we just have to live with it. We’ve got drills in practice that are similar to that. Coach just rolls the ball out there, he calls your name, and you have to go get it. Next time, I don’t think I’ll do it, not even in practice.”

Bowman, who scored a career-high 19 points with 17 coming in the second half, never could have imagined his rolled ball would turn out to be the play of the game and keep the Hoyas (2-0) undefeated.

“I didn’t see the defender coming up, so I kind of threw it all gently, but right before I passed it [Cameron] came up, and luckily the pass was bad enough that we got a foul,” Bowman said. “You have to call that foul with any amount of seconds left on the game clock.”

However, the Hoyas don’t stay unbeaten if Cook doesn’t sink both free throws. Georgetown’s sophomore point guard went to the line with the Penn State band sitting behind the basket and the student section to his left as he made the biggest free throws in his young career.

“I blocked everything out and just knocked them down,” said Cook, who scored a career-high 17 points. “I said to myself when I went to the line, ‘I’ve always wanted to be in this type of situation with the ball in my hands.’ I’ve never been in this situation at the college level.”

The Hoyas were fortunate Cook had a chance to win it, considering the Nittany Lions opened the game with a 13-0 lead. The Nittany Lions led 36-23 with 4:39 left before halftime but could not extend their lead the rest of the game.

Down 42-33 at halftime, Georgetown opened the second half on a 13-4 run to tie the game at 46-46 with 16:47 left on a Bowman 3-pointer from the right wing. It was a slugfest the rest of the way, with seven lead changes and three ties down the stretch.

Georgetown also overcame an outstanding game from Penn State’s 7-foot junior forward Jan Jagla, who recorded his eighth career double-double with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Bowman and Cook paced five double-figure scorers, including forward Darrel Owens (10 points), Gerald Riley (12) and freshman guard Ray Reed (10).

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of the way our guys came back in that ballgame,” Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said. “I’m not certain that we would have won this ballgame last year.”

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