- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 13, 2005

Georgetown appears destined for the Big Dance.

On an afternoon when their precision motion offense wasn’t clicking, the Hoyas found a way yesterday to beat West Virginia 67-60 before their largest crowd of the season (14,458) at MCI Center.

The Hoyas turned the ball over a season-high 18 times, but their carelessness did not lead to a loss, thanks to huge second-half scoring performances by Jeff Green and Brandon Bowman.

Green scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the half, and Bowman collected 10 of his 15 in the final 17 minutes to lead the Hoyas.

With the win, Georgetown (16-6, 8-3 Big East) moved into sole possession of third place, a half game ahead of No. 18 Pittsburgh and No. 19 Connecticut. Barring a collapse with five regular-season games remaining, Georgetown looks like a sure bet to go to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001.

“We don’t want to do what has been done in the past — we want to do our own thing, and Coach [John Thompson III] has emphasized that, especially when he first came here, he doesn’t want to be looked as his father’s son — he wants to be his own man,” Bowman said. “That’s how the team feels. We don’t want to be looked at as teams of the past. We want to be our own team and get a legacy going that we started.”

Last year the Hoyas likely would have lost a game like this. Georgetown never led in the first half and allowed West Virginia (14-8, 4-7) to jump out to a 16-8 lead with 12:46 left.

Despite trailing for long periods, the Hoyas never panicked or forced the action. Down 29-26 at halftime, Georgetown opened the second half on a quick 6-2 run, taking its first lead 32-31 with 18:43 remaining. The Hoyas proceeded to outscore the Mountaineers 41-31 in the second half behind Green’s strong moves in the paint and Bowman’s overall floor game.

“Up until now, we’ve been able to win games and figure out how to win,” Thompson said of his team’s second-half effort. “That’s one thing this group has done a very good job of — not panicking when it gets ugly, not panicking regardless of how much time is on the clock and just figuring out how to win.”

Georgetown beat the Mountaineers for the ninth time in the past 10 meetings by making big plays down the stretch. Take senior Darrel Owens’ 3-pointer from the top of the key that beat the shot clock buzzer and broke a 54-54 deadlock with 2:43 left.

Sophomore guard Ray Reed’s key pass over a West Virginia triple team led to a Bowman layup with 20.6 seconds left, giving the Hoyas a 63-59 lead.

The Mountaineers probably committed a tactical blunder by not fouling Reed, who came in shooting 56.3 percent (9-for-16) from the line. Thompson took a calculated gamble to have such a mediocre free throw shooter on the floor in the final seconds.

“There were 29 seconds left to go in the game, and I think 20 seconds is still a two-possession game. I wanted to try and get a steal immediately and not put them at the line immediately,” explained West Virginia coach John Beilein regarding his late-game strategy. “We tried it, and it didn’t work. We blew it up. We had three people who went and attacked the basketball. We don’t press a great deal so it’s something you work on, but you don’t live by it. [Fouling Reed] would have been a better idea now that we look at it.”

Said Thompson: “You can’t foul what you can’t catch.”

Beilein’s 1-3-1 halfcourt zone disrupted Georgetown’s Princeton-style offense in the first half. The backdoor cuts the Hoyas usually convert into easy baskets were fumbled out of bounds by the Hoyas. They came in averaging 13.7 turnovers but committed 11 in the first half alone.

“It’s hard to be pretty against that defense,” Thompson said.

Kevin Pittsnogle, the Mountaineers’ 6-foot-11 center, was West Virginia’s only double-digit scorer with 10 points. Hoyas guard Ashanti Cook complemented Green and Bowman with 12 points.

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