- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2005

Team Tums added another stunner to its burgeoning resume yesterday.

Georgetown’s hoops revival under first-year coach John Thompson III continued at MCI Center as the Hoyas stuffed Notre Dame 55-54 on a last-second dunk by freshman center Roy Hibbert.

“We’re getting a lot of games like this, but as long as we end up on this end of it, it’s OK,” Thompson said after watching his Hoyas (12-5, 4-2 Big East) deliver at the end of regulation for a third consecutive game.

A week ago at Villanova, junior guard Ashanti Cook tossed a perfect baseball pass to Darrel Owens that resulted in a game-clinching trip to the free throw line with one tenth of a second remaining. Tuesday night at Syracuse, junior forward Brandon Bowman stroked home a jumper with 2.4 seconds remaining to force overtime in a game the Hoyas eventually would lose. And yesterday, it was Cook’s turn to play the hero again.

After Notre Dame gunner Colin Falls gave the Irish (12-4, 4-2) their first lead of the second half on a lunging, double-clutch 3-pointer with five seconds left, Cook (12 points, three assists) took a quick inbounds pass from freshman point man Jonathan Wallace and exploded down the right side of the court.

Refusing to let Notre Dame standout Chris Thomas impede his baseline-to-baseline sprint, the 6-foot-2 guard from Inglewood, Calif., sailed into the frontcourt with Thomas on his hip, forced Notre Dame forward Jordan Cornette to commit to his lane to the hoop and then shoveled a perfect pass to Hibbert for the game-sealing slam.

“It was a [heck] of a play by Ashanti,” said Thompson, whose Hoyas find themselves in third place in the league standings heading into tomorrow night’s home game against St. John’s. “A lot of times when you call a timeout you give the defense a chance to get set, so our guys know to get it and go. I don’t think Ashanti’s ever moved that fast in his life.”

The celebration was put on hold for several minutes while officials reviewed the tape to make certain Hibbert had beaten the buzzer.

“I was thinking about Syracuse when my foot was on the line,” said Bowman, who had his clutch shot at the Carrier Dome reviewed and correctly ruled a two-pointer instead of a game-winning 3. “When they started reviewing it and huddled, I got kind of worried. But I had a feeling it was going to go in our favor this time.”

The delay did little to dampen the celebration as players, students and fans cavorted in jubilation for several minutes at midcourt after lead official Steve Welmer signified the basket was good. It marked the first time Georgetown students had stormed the court at MCI Center since a 75-60 victory over No.10 Syracuse on Jan.28, 2002.

It also provided a cathartic moment after two seasons in which the program plumbed new depths of futility, slumping to a 10-22 record in league play.

“Compared to last year, it’s definitely a much better feeling,” said Bowman (13 points, six rebounds). “You’re able to hold your head up with confidence. Everything’s just much better when you’re winning.”

The offensive heroics in the game’s final seconds came at the end of a contest that actually was defined by high-caliber defense by both squads and some poor outside shooting from the Hoyas, who finished an atypical 4-for-18 from 3-point range. Despite the sour effort from the perimeter and a pedestrian game from standout freshman Jeff Green (13 points, seven rebounds), the Hoyas led most of the way thanks to an outstanding effort on the boards and an strong defensive showing against Thomas.

Harassed by wave after wave of Georgetown guards, Thomas finished the day with just 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting, easily his worst outing in three games against the Hoyas at MCI Center.

And in the middle, Georgetown outrebounded the Irish 34-27, grabbing 13 offensive boards and punishing Notre Dame for a 24-10 advantage in points in the paint. Much of the credit for those two statistics goes to Hibbert (11 points, seven rebounds), the 7-foot-2 mountain who seems to improve every time he steps on the floor.

“We just keep finding different ways to win,” Cook said. “We’re just trusting our teammates more and more and letting players make plays.”

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