- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 3, 2008

“Junior” single-handedly slapped down Seton Hall.

With its lead dwindling and its backcourt foul troubles mounting, Georgetown turned to the bloodline that helped build the program yesterday at Verizon Center. And Patrick Ewing Jr. responded with a career performance against the Pirates, shouldering the Hoyas to a 73-61 victory and the program’s best Big East start since 1989.

“I think [Ewing] was terrific today,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson, whose Hoyas (18-2, 8-1 Big East) will look to maintain their lead in the conference against visiting South Florida (10-11, 1-7) on Tuesday. “The energy that he brings is infectious. We all feed off it. And he’s a senior. He understands that there’s a sense of urgency, there aren’t too many games left to be played here for him.”

If Ewing (16 points, six rebounds, three assists) continues playing like he did down the stretch against the Pirates (15-7, 5-4), he could make many future trips to Verizon Center in an NBA uniform.

With 14:55 left yesterday, Georgetown looked to have complete control of the game after junior guard Jessie Sapp (17 points, seven rebounds) dropped a 3-pointer to extend the Hoyas’ lead to 42-30 over Seton Hall’s four-guard attack.

But within the next minute, the team’s three principal ball-handlers (Sapp, Jon Wallace and Jeremiah Rivers) were all whistled for their fourth fouls.

Given Seton Hall’s dribble-drive offensive style and rabid full-court press (which contributed to a season-high 21 turnovers by Georgetown), such a backcourt-strapped situation was potentially devastating for the Hoyas.

The Pirates spent the next several minutes exploiting a patchwork Georgetown lineup to cut the lead to 42-38 on a slashing layup by swingman Brian Lang (24 points) and a 3-pointer from Jeremy Hazell. But then Thompson turned to Ewing. And just as he did a week ago at West Virginia, Junior jumped out of this legendary father’s shadows to author some magic of his own.

“At that moment, Coach asked me, ‘Are you tired? You look tired. I need your energy. You need to be more vocal. You need to do some things on the floor and make something happen. We need to pull this game out,’ ” said Ewing, who began his solo assault on Seton Hall with just less than 10:00 left. “My teammates had my back. And I was fortunate enough to score some points and find some open cutters.”

There was nothing lucky about Ewing’s play in the last 10 minutes of the game. The senior took over in front of the 15,528 fans in attendance.

Over the last 9:03, Ewing scored 11 points, handed out two assists, made two other passes that sent teammates to the free throw line, made all three of his field goal attempts, seven of his eight free throws and collected two rebounds and a charge.

He was seemingly omnipresent, at one point bracketing two assists around three straight buckets on five consecutive possessions to turn a 53-46 struggle with 5:21 remaining into a 64-48 laugher with 2:25 remaining.

“We were just having fun out there, man,” Ewing said after the best Jeff Green imitation the Hoyas have seen since last season’s Big East Player of the Year bolted for the Northwest coast with the Seattle SuperSonics. “We were just doing what we do.”

Perhaps most impressively, Ewing’s decision-making during the game-deciding stretch was flawless.

On three different occasions Ewing passed on wide open 3-pointers in transition to burn clock, knowing that killing time was the most important thing for his foul-strapped team. And on the two occasions when he did decide to attack, he consummated the decisions with a rim-rattling jam and a perfect transition lob to Austin Freeman.

“I agree that his decision-making was excellent today,” Thompson said. “He was very, very good.”

Hoyas report

Yesterday at Verizon Center

SEEN AND HEARD

In off-court news, Georgetown inducted former great Reggie Williams (1984-87) into the school’s Hall of Fame during a halftime ceremony yesterday.

Both coaches and their staffs also wore tennis shoes in honor of Coaches vs. Cancer weekend. Seton Hall’s Bobby Gonzalez also wore a blue dental hygienist’s smock for the occasion. Thompson wore a custom-designed pair of Nikes with the pink ribbon breast cancer logo in honor of his wife, Monica, who is in remission after doctors diagnosed her with the disease in 2005.

QUOTABLE

“It’s a problem for us when you play Roy Hibbert and Vernon Macklin because those are NBA players. Those guys are pros, and they just outclassed us a little bit.”

— Bobby Gonzalez

BY THE NUMBERS

49-21 Georgetown’s rebounding edge against Seton Hall. Though Georgetown entered the game as one of the weakest rebounding teams in the Big East, its 28-board advantage was its biggest this season and moved it from 12th to eighth in the Big East in rebounding margin (+0.1).

Barker Davis

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