Sunday, January 4, 2004

Georgetown surged to a comfortable lead in the first half yesterday thanks to suffocating defensive pressure. But only after Rutgers trimmed the lead to a basket with less than three minutes remaining did that pressure return in the second half.

The result: Georgetown remained undefeated and passed its first Big East test of the season with a 63-57 victory against the Scarlet Knights before 8,194 at MCI Center.

“There were certainly some things in the second half that I’m going to have to deal with in practice tomorrow and on Monday, but in the first half I thought we played very well,” Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said. “I think we caused Rutgers to not play well.”

Rutgers (7-3, 0-1) had several opportunities to tie in the final minutes, but Herve Lamizana let himself be tied up and lost the jump ball, then had a short jumper blocked by Brandon Bowman. Finally, freshman guard Marquis Webb missed an open 3-pointer with 23 seconds left. The Hoyas sealed the victory with four free throws in the final 17 seconds.

“I think [the lack of scoring down the stretch] was two things — good defense and the first game in league play,” Esherick said. “They relied on two freshman guards, and we have seven freshmen and sophomores in our first nine … Most of it was good defense, but some of it was inexperience.”

Georgetown (10-0, 1-0 Big East) led by as many as 18 points in the first 20 minutes and never by less than nine until Rutgers cut the advantage to 52-47 with 7:58 to play. The root of Rutgers’ problems was Georgetown’s fullcourt pressure. Hoyas defenders deflected passes out of bounds in the backcourt three times on one possession.

The Hoyas responded with five consecutive points, but a 10-2 run by the Scarlet Knights brought them within 59-57.

Rutgers’ top two scorers, Lamizana and Upper Marlboro native Ricky Shields, combined to make two of 20 shots. They had as many turnovers as points (six). Both watched most of the decisive moments from the bench. Shields has made three of 27 shots in three trips to MCI Center

“Sometimes when you want to win, you have to go in a different direction,” Rutgers coach Gary Waters said. The Scarlet Knights haven’t beaten Georgetown in Washington since 1998.

Without Lamizana and Shields, freshmen keyed Rutgers’ second-half comeback. Quincy Douby led the visitors with 14 points.

The Hoyas played well in the first half despite leading scorer Gerald Riley being in foul trouble. Riley played only four minutes and had more fouls than points.

“It was a long day,” said Riley, who finished with seven points, his first game without reaching double figures. “I couldn’t stay on the court [because of the fouls].”

Bowman led the Hoyas with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Darrell Owens added 14 points and Courtland Freeman finished with 11.

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