- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

Georgetown took out a month’s worth of finishing-stretch frustration on overmatched Boston University last night, bludgeoning the Terriers 64-34 in the first round of the NIT at MCI Center.

“That feels good,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said after collecting the first postseason victory of his coaching career. “I thought about telling the guys that it was my first one. But I didn’t, because hopefully we’ll have many more.”

The Hoyas (18-12) will have to wait three days to find out their second-round opponent; the winners of two of last night’s late opening round games (Cal State-Fullerton vs. Oregon State and Denver vs. San Francisco) will meet for the right to face Georgetown. Though the date and location have yet to be announced, the game likely will take place Tuesday at a local site.

The Terriers (20-9) entered last night’s game boasting the nation’s No. 1 field-goal percentage defense (36.8). They exited the victims of a Big East-style beatdown.

Georgetown throttled the visitors from the America East Conference at both ends of the floor almost from the opening tip. The Hoyas experienced little resistance from BU’s vaunted defense, shredding the Terriers with Thompson’s precision passing attack. Georgetown shot 52 percent in the first half, with most of the damage coming on a series of highlight-style slams from freshman forward Jeff Green (17 points, seven rebounds) and 3-point lasers from senior swingman Darrel Owens (17 points, 5-for-7 from behind the arc).

“He’s in a rhythm right now,” Thompson said of Owens, a 6-foot-6 glider who has hit 12 of 21 3s in his last three games to give the team a huge boost from the perimeter. “Darrel seems to make shots when he’s doing other things well. And in the last several games he’s focused on his defense, getting in passing lanes and rebounding, and his shot has been dropping.”

The story on the defensive end was even more impressive for the home team, which challenged every shot en route to holding BU under 40 points for the first time since 1971.

“Right now we’re a bad offensive team,” BU coach Dennis Wolff said after his team was held to a season-low 23.6 percent shooting. “If you can’t make shots, it becomes painful. … But it’s a little bit like comparing apples and oranges. On any given night, a team like Vermont from our conference could give them a tough game. But day in and day out, there’s a clear difference in the leagues.”

That difference was evident immediately last night. Georgetown held a major advantage in size, skill and quickness at nearly every position. And for all intents and purposes, the game was over at intermission. The Hoyas sauntered to the locker room with a 34-15 lead, their coziest margin since December, thanks to a 25-2 run that consumed the middle portion of the half.

The second half was little more than a glorified scrimmage. And when Owens hammered home his fifth 3-pointer to put the Hoyas ahead 52-27 with 9:06 remaining, Thompson eased off the throttle and cleared his bench, finding time for seldom-used players like Cornelio Guibunda, Ryan Beal, Kenny Izzo and RaMell Ross.

Last night’s game continued the positive trend established by the Hoyas at last week’s Big East tournament, a turnaround from the 0-5 regular-season finish that crippled their NCAA tournament hopes.

“We’re playing next week, and come next week, how many other teams can say that?” said Thompson, who sees the NIT as valuable experience for a team that returns all eight players in its regular rotation next season. “I told the guys that there are so few teams that have a chance to play at this time of year, in any tournament, that they better not take it for granted. It’s special.”

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