- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 20, 2009

Don’t expect Georgetown to host Old Dominion at McDonough Arena again in the near future.

For the third time in as many consecutive trips to the Hoyas’ cramped on-campus gym, the Monarchs stunned the home team. None was more exciting than than the latest meeting between the two programs, as Old Dominion survived both the blizzard of 2009 and a furious late storm from the Hoyas to drop 11th-ranked Georgetown 61-57 in front of a raucous crowd of 2,400 blue-and-gray students.

Denied the first 9-0 start of John Thompson III’s six-year era, Georgetown (8-1) attempts to rebound from its first setback of the season Wednesday against Harvard at MCI Center.

“I think you witnessed a pretty good basketball game,” said Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor. “Some might call this an upset, and I guess it was given their ranking and record. But I think we’ve gotten to the point as a program where games like this are in the cards for us if we do the right things.”

After dominating throughout the first half, the Monarchs (7-4) pulled out to a 47-29 lead on a pair of free throws by junior forward Frank Hassell (10 points, seven rebounds) with 14:20 remaining.

Instead of fading against the inspired Monarchs, however, Georgetown spent the remainder of the game clawing back into contention before erupting down the stretch to turn a snoozer into the most dramatic game in which the Hoyas have been involved since their home opener against Temple.

Trailing 56-44 with less than 6:00 remaining, the Hoyas put together a 13-3 run behind some suffocating defense and strong play from the frontcourt tandem of Greg Monroe (15 points, seven rebounds, four assists) and Julian Vaughn (13 points, seven rebounds, four blocks) to pull the Hoyas within two points (59-57) on a free throw by Monroe with 1:16 remaining.

But with the student-centric crowd exploding around them, the Hoyas imploded in the final minute. First came a Monroe miss from the line; it was the sixth Georgetown miss from the stripe over the final eight minutes (including two front ends by Vaughn).

Next came a failure to block out on the defensive end, allowing Hassell to follow up a floating miss with 44.6 seconds left that gave the Monarchs the final four-point margin. Though the Hoyas finished the game tied with Old Dominion on the boards (32-32), the Monarchs turned 13 offensive rebounds into a number of second-chance points.

Finally, Georgetown missed a trio of three-pointers in the waning seconds, book-ended by a costly unforced turnover; for the game, Georgetown made just 5 of 17 shots from behind the arc and committed 18 turnovers.

“The turnovers jump out at me, because it’s something we can control,” said Thompson. “We we didn’t turn it over, we got the shots we wanted…They just didn’t go in.”

Strangely, Georgetown totally controlled ODU leading scorer Gerald Lee. The 6-foot-10 senior center came in averaging 15.3 points but scored just six in Saturday night’s victory thanks to the efforts of Monroe and Vaughn.

Junior swingman Ben Finney (13 points, six rebounds, five assists) led the Monarchs in scoring but was aided by solid complementary performances from Hassell and reserve sophomore gunner Trian Iliadis, who came off the bench to score 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range.

If there is a silver lining in Saturday night’s loss, perhaps history is now on Georgetown’s side. The Hoyas lost to the Monarchs 75-62 at McDonough on Nov. 18, 2006, but rebounded to sweep the Big East regular-season and tournament titles en route to the program’s first Final Four appearance since 1985.

SEEN AND HEARD

26-22 — Old Dominion’s advantage in points in the paint against the larger Hoyas. That edge is particularly eye-opening given that the Hoyas held ODU leading scorer Gerald Lee to just six points.

6:46 — Time remaining when Georgetown point guard Chris Wright recorded his first points of the game. The junior missed his first six shots from the field but did finish with a season-high seven assists.

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