- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

NEW YORK — “Bobo” was brilliant.

Notching the most impressive all-floor game of his Georgetown career, maligned senior forward Brandon Bowman carried the 23rd-ranked Hoyas to a 67-63 victory over Notre Dame yesterday in the opening round of the Big East tournament.

The fifth-seeded Hoyas (20-8) face fourth-seeded Marquette (20-9) today at 2:30 p.m. in the second of four quarterfinal matchups. But regardless of today’s outcome, Bowman guaranteed the Hoyas wouldn’t stagger backward into the NCAA tournament.

The 6-foot-9 senior sure knows how to pick a breakout stage. With star forward Jeff Green still suffering the lingering effects of an illness that doomed the Hoyas to a humbling defeat at lowly South Florida on Saturday, Bowman stepped into Green’s critical high-post position midway through the first half yesterday at Madison Square Garden and proceeded to shred the Irish zone with a season-high 25 points.

“I thought Brandon Bowman had a special performance today,” coach John Thompson III said after watching the four-year starter make nine of his 17 shots from the field to go with seven rebounds, four assists and just one turnover. “Brandon did all the little things today — coming up with balls, getting a deflection here and there, talking on defense. Then, on top of that, he put the ball in the basket. I thought he was terrific today — there’s no other way to put it.”

Bowman’s biggest hoop came on a possession that began with 54.9 seconds left and Georgetown clinging to a tenuous 64-63 lead over the Irish (15-13). So impressive was Bowman’s performance and so great was Thompson’s trust in him that Georgetown point guard Jonathan Wallace held the ball until there were just eight seconds left on the shot clock — 27.9 on the game clock — before the team even initiated its play.

That play was a simple entry into Bowman in the soft spot of the Notre Dame zone at the foul line. Bowman did not hesitate, darting left around Irish center Torin Francis, extending the ball in his left hand and flipping home a hybrid hook high off the glass with 22 seconds left.

“Man, that’s eight minutes — that’s our eight-minute layup drill before every practice,” Bowman said of the final shot. “We practice that layup every day, going to the left, off the top of the glass.”

Only a player with Bowman’s condor-esque wingspan could call such a shot a layup.

But a three-point lead was hardly safe against an Irish team that already had hit eight of 12 3-pointers in the second half. Instead of leaving the game in the hands of Notre Dame’s 3-point marksmen, Thompson and the Hoyas took the initiative. Wallace gave the team’s sixth foul in the backcourt to burn a few crucial seconds, and Wallace sent Notre Dame junior Russell Carter to the line for a one-and-one with 8.1 seconds remaining.

Carter clanked the first toss. Green corralled the rebound. And though he played just 25 minutes thanks to a combination of Bowman’s emergence and matchup preferences on the defensive end, Green (13 points, nine rebounds) then sealed the victory from the free throw line with 6.5 seconds left by dropping the front end to put the Hoyas up four.

“Jeff Green knows how to make a play — like how to get that rebound,” said Thompson, who assured the media his star was healthy. “Jeff’s fine. We just had some success with that group when we took him out.”

They had success because Bowman, who has frustrated Thompson all season with his inconsistency and aloof demeanor, was a leader on both ends of the floor. They had success because Bowman, a player who had averaged 5.6 points in the team’s previous five games, tied his career high in points against a Big East opponent. They had success because Bowman, who with 72 starts against Big East teams has played as much basketball in the league as anybody in New York this week, decided Georgetown wasn’t going one-and-done in the Garden in his senior season.

“I was feeling it today, doing whatever was necessary to win,” Bowman said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can get it done on any given night, and today it was my turn. I did what I had to do when I got the ball, and we’re moving on.”

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