- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 27, 2005

Times are changing on the Hilltop and — at least yesterday — not necessarily for the better.

In the first of an unusual series of games against non-league foes from major conferences, Georgetown lost to Vanderbilt 68-61 before 7,526 at MCI Center as Commodores sophomore swingman Shan Foster scored 13 of his game-high 20 points in the second half.

In the past, the Hoyas (2-1) rarely have scheduled early games like this. But after last season, when a weak nonconference schedule and losses in six of their final seven games left the Hoyas in the NIT, second-year coach John Thompson III figured a tougher early season slate would pay off in March.

It looked like it would through the first half. The Hoyas played nearly flawlessly and led 36-29 at the break. But the Commodores (4-0) opened the second half with a 12-3 run and claimed their first lead of the game at 41-39 with 15:29 left.

“We got wide open looks for our guys. It just didn’t go in,” Thompson said. “It happens a lot, and you see it over and over again. When you’re not making shots and the ball is not going in the basket, then your defense gets a little more porous. And that’s what happened. I’m not taking away anything from them. We got what we were looking for. The ball just didn’t go in.”

After shooting 57.7 percent (15-for-26) in the first half, the Hoyas made just nine of 26 shots (34.6 percent) in the second half. The Commodores, meanwhile, shot 38.1 percent in the first half but improved to 59.1 percent (13-for-22) after halftime. As a result, Vanderbilt — which, like Georgetown, runs a version of the Princeton offense — outscored the Hoyas 39-25 in the second half.

“They just came out and played harder than us. We couldn’t match their intensity, so when they pulled in the lead, they kept it and they just maintained it,” sophomore Jeff Green said.

Georgetown can take a couple of positives from the loss. For instance, after contributing little statistically in wins over Navy and James Madison, Green and senior Brandon Bowman both were just one rebound shy of a double-double yesterday. Bowman had a season-high 12 points and nine rebounds, while Green, last season’s co-Big East rookie of the year, had a team-high 14 points and nine rebounds.

“They’ve shown up for every game,” Thompson said. “Our two leading scorers from last year haven’t put up big numbers in the first couple of games, and tonight they put up numbers and we don’t win. We’re going to have different guys step up. Yes, we need them to score.”

In addition to Bowman and Green, guards Jonathan Wallace (11 points) and Darrel Owens (10 points) also scored in double figures.

That wasn’t enough against the Commodores, who were predicted to finish in the middle of the pack in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division. Vanderbilt returned three starters from the team that went 20-14 with a run to the NIT quarterfinals last year.

The Hoyas don’t play again until Saturday at Oregon in the Hispanic College Fund Basketball Classic. Then they will play at No.15 Illinois on Dec.8, completing a three-game string of games against major conference programs before playing host to Fairfield on Dec.11.

But in this game, the Hoyas were reminded a tougher schedule might not help them if they don’t win.

“Most games are won in the second half,” Wallace said. “There’s not going to be a single game that we play during the year that’s going to be determined by a first-half performance.”

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