- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2008

RALEIGH, N.C. — All season long, the hallmarks of Georgetown’s success have been suffocating halfcourt defense and offensive versatility.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that exactly those characteristics defined Georgetown’s first-round NCAA tournament victory over Maryland-Baltimore County yesterday in Raleigh, N.C.

Highlighted by the play of sixth man Patrick Ewing Jr., the second-seeded Hoyas pasted the Retrievers 66-47 at RBC Center. The Hoyas (28-5) meet No. 10 Davidson tomorrow after the Wildcats upset Gonzaga behind a 40-point outing from sophomore Stephen Curry.

The competitive portion of the game ended during a five-minute stretch late in the first half, when five Hoyas players scored during a 13-0 run that staked Georgetown to a 31-17 lead with 2:51 left before halftime.

“We just couldn’t score,” said UMBC coach Randy Monroe, whose team finished 24-9 this season and shot 32 percent yesterday. “They were even longer and more athletic than they looked on film.”

The Hoyas held the UMBC backcourt of leading scorer Ray Barbosa and assist specialist Jay Greene to 12 points and four assists, while forcing seven turnovers.

Offensively, the Hoyas didn’t enjoy one of their cleaner performances, missing a slew of wide open 3-pointers and committing 15 turnovers.

Center Roy Hibbert (13 points, seven rebounds) and point guard Jonathan Wallace (13 points) shared high-scoring laurels. But Ewing (10 points, six rebounds, four assists) deserved MVP honors for serving as the centerpiece of the smaller, quicker Georgetown second-half lineup that officially dispatched the Retrievers.

“As effective as Roy is, I almost think the matchup was better for us with Patrick on the floor,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson III, who replaced the 7-foot-2 Hibbert with the 6-8 Ewing early in the second half to spark a second game-defining 10-2 Georgetown run. “They were attacking Roy, so we had to get a little smaller. And when we went small, it made us much quicker on the defensive end.

“Patrick has been consistently terrific throughout the second half of the season. He’s only sixth man because his coach doesn’t know well enough to start him.”

The Hoyas have experimented with the smaller lineup in practice of late, shunting Ewing from his customary spot on the wing back to the role he played as in high school.

“I’ve been learning the center position the last couple of weeks in practice, so I wouldn’t mess up any of the plays,” said Ewing, who late in the game executed the prettiest post play of the day when he took UMBC’s Cavell Johnson on a nasty up-and-under basket. “When I did that I looked over at Roy and he was smiling at me because we’ve been working on my post moves the last couple of weeks.”

The Hoyas now face the unenviable task of defending perhaps the best pure shooter in the nation in Curry, the son of former Virginia Tech standout and longtime NBA 3-point specialist Dell Curry.

Curry entered the game as the nation’s fifth-leading scorer (25.1 points) and third in 3-point field goals a game (4.3) and proceeded to drain eight of 10 from deep against Gonzaga.

“What strikes me is probably what strikes everybody: that he can shoot the cover off the ball,” Thompson said. “Watching Davidson makes me feel worried.”

Said Ewing: “Yeah, I know a little about Davidson. They’ve had a great season. They’re on a 25-game winning streak now. They have a great shooter and player in Curry. Their point guard [Jason Richards] leads the nation in assists. And their big men are fairly physical, so we look forward to having a good game with them.”



 The Rover loved watching RBC Center light up behind quasi-local Davidson yesterday. Sophomore gunner Stephen “Son of Dell/Can’t Spell” Curry was every bit as good as advertised, pouring in 40 points on 8-for-10 shooting from behind the arc to lead the Wildcats to an 82-76 upset of the Zags. That said, Curry is nowhere near 6-foot-3, and he appears to weigh 115 pounds. Unless he spends the next 700 straight days in the weight room, he has zero future in the NBA. …

 The best sight of the day was watching former Gonzaga star Adam Morrison suffer in the stands while his alma mater wilted down the stretch. By the way, has anyone ever seen Morrison and Billy Crudup at the same time? What did Mark Few do to the NCAA to draw Davidson in Raleigh? …

 UMBC’s fan contingent for its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance dwarfed the miserly crowd on hand to watch the Hoyas. …

 Georgetown point guard Jonathan Wallace is clearly hurting. The 6-1 senior, who has been fighting an injury to his right hand over the last three weeks, absorbed a hard fall on that hand early in yesterday’s win and finished an uncharacteristic 2-for-6 from 3-point range. …

 Was there a single bracket in the nation that featured a second-round matchup between 13-seed San Diego and 12-seed Western Kentucky? UCLA draws a free pass to Phoenix. …

 The Rover wants hazard pay for braving consecutive sub-regional trips to Tobacco Road (Winston-Salem and Raleigh), where he has had to endure the delusional supremacy of the most blindly loyal fan base in the nation. Memo to UNC: the gray-haired guy on the end of your bench will find a way to mess up this postseason. He has made 11 trips to the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 of No. 2 seed and come away with exactly one title … and the Rover would have liked his cat’s chances of coaching Raymond Felton, Sean May and the 2005 Tar Heels to a ring.

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