- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Georgetown buried another unfortunate foe in its chaotic on-campus crypt.

The Hoyas maintained their mastery at McDonough Arena last night, cruising past Cal State Fullerton 74-57 in the second round of the NIT and running their record in the cramped gym to 26-0 dating to 1982.

“Playing at home on campus isn’t bad, huh?” chuckled Georgetown coach John Thompson III after his Hoyas (19-12) rolled over the Titans (20-11) in front of a frenzied sellout crowd of 2,604 Blue and Gray backers. “Our students have been great all year, but having them right there on top of you is pretty good. … The atmosphere was even better than I expected. We played San Jose State here earlier this season, and it was nothing like that.”

Circumstances on the Hilltop have changed dramatically since that December warmup game. Thompson has revived the struggling program in less than a full season, and last night marked the first postseason game at McDonough in a dozen years and the first nationally televised game at the facility since 1982.

Both of those games (against UTEP and Missouri, respectively), like last night’s contest and every other during the streak, resulted in double-digit victory margins for the Hoyas. But Georgetown’s cozy homecourt run in the NIT is over, as the Hoyas now must travel to South Carolina for a quarterfinal matchup tomorrow night against the Gamecocks. At stake is a trip to New York for the NIT’s Final Four (March29-31) and a potential semifinal meeting Tuesday with Beltway rival Maryland.

“We’re in the NIT, so getting to New York and winning is the goal,” said Thompson, refusing to comment on the potential matchup against the Terps at Madison Square Garden. “I haven’t thought beyond Cal State Fullerton.”

The Titans didn’t merit quite that much concentration, because only bits and pieces of the uptempo squad that stretched opposing defenses all season in the Big West Conference showed up at McDonough. Five major contributors for coach Bob Burton’s run-and-gun attack were sidelined with injuries, including leading scorer and rebounder Ralphy Holmes and backup point man John Clemmons.

“I told our trainer before the game that if he had any more injuries to report, he could find me at the nearest bar,” said the glib Burton after watching his Titans shoot just 29 percent from the field en route to matching their lowest point production of the season. “Honestly, I don’t like making excuses, but it’s too bad we had to end our season this way, because I don’t really think you got to see our real team. I’m not saying we would have beaten Georgetown with those guys, but it might have been fun.”

As it was, the Hoyas simply had too much firepower, running with their counterparts before intermission to take a 41-30 lead to the locker room and then slowing down the pace in the second half to safeguard a double-digit lead that was never threatened.

The Hoyas shot a superb 54 percent from the field, shredding Cal State Fullerton’s shorthanded defense with a balanced assault paced by forwards Brandon Bowman (19 points, six rebounds) and Jeff Green (18 points, six blocks), who was brilliant in limited minutes before fouling out with 4:57 remaining. The only Georgetown starter who didn’t notch double figures in scoring was junior shooting guard Ashanti Cook, and he stuffed the stat sheet elsewhere, finishing with nine points, 10 rebounds and six assists while playing against his former backcourt mate at Westchester High (Los Angeles) ” Fullerton’s Bobby Brown (16 points).

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