Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

More ‘Pitt’falls for Georgetown

MEN’S BASKETBALL More `Pitt’falls for Georgetown Hoyas Lose to Panthers for Second Time By John-Paul Hezel Hoya Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH, Pa., Jan. 26 – Through the Georgetown men’s basketball team’s first 18 games, Michael Sweetney averaged 19.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and committed 3.1 turnovers per contest. Against Pittsburgh on Saturday, the sophomore power forward scored a meager six points, grabbed only five rebounds and committed five turnovers.

Through the Hoyas’ first 18 games, the margin of victory in their six losses was 6.3 points. Against Pittsburgh on Saturday, Georgetown lost by 11, 67-56.

And this was no last second, tip-in defeat. The Hoyas were out-muscled, out-hustled and out-played before 6,798 rowdy fans at the Fitzgerald Field House.

It was the second-lowest point total for Georgetown this season, dropping them to 0-3 when scoring fewer than 70 points. Their season low was 55 in a loss to Virginia on Dec. 20. The loss to Pitt marks the first time that the Panthers have swept the season series from the Hoyas since the Panthers joined the Big East in the 1982-83 season. Georgetown also fell to Pitt, 68-67, at MCI Center last Saturday.

“You never expect, going into the season, to beat Georgetown twice,” Pittsburgh Head Coach Ben Howland said. “We feel very fortunate, and we’re very happy to be in this position here.”

The Panthers (18-3, 6-2 Big East), coming off a 72-57 pounding of No. 10 Syracuse, have now won three straight and sit half a game behind the Orangemen in the Big East West Division, in which the Hoyas drop to fourth.

“It feels terrible,” Head Coach Craig Esherick said. “I wish it hadn’t happened. Pitt’s good. Pitt’s very good . They rebound the heck out of the ball. They have big bodies out there, so they keep you off the boards.”

With only nine games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Hoyas (12-7, 3-4 Big East) sit on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament selection. Georgetown has only one quality road win over a ranked team, a 70-43 drubbing of then-No. 16 Boston College, and has only one big game remaining on the road – at Syracuse on Feb. 24.

Using a swarming zone defense with three men fixed in the paint, the Panthers denied the ball to Sweetney and junior center Wesley Wilson, who finished with 10 points and a paltry team-high seven rebounds. In the first game against Pitt, Sweetney battled for 24 points, including 16 of 18 from the line. He only shot two foul shots in the second on Saturday.

“They kept two and three guys [on] me every time I touched the ball,” Sweetney said. “I’ve seen triple teams but there’s just something different about theirs. I don’t understand what it is, but I’ll figure it out some day.”

Panthers’ freshman guard Chevon Troutman, who scored a career-high nine points in 11 minutes, offered an explanation for the Hoyas’ trouble.

“They’re not used to people banging into them whenever they walk by somebody,” he said. “[We] just bang whoever comes closest to [us] and they just stop playing. They just stop playing. Most teams let [Sweetney] do what he wants, but we make sure someone’s guarding him, so he knows someone’s there so he’s not gonna get an easy bucket.”

The Hoyas could not find any rhythm down low and turned the ball over too often to get easy buckets consistently. The Panthers also kept the rebounding margin close, 37-33, yet still in Georgetown’s favor. The Hoyas entered the game leading the Big East in rebounding at 41.3 per game.

“They did a great job on Mike, kept the ball out of his hands and forced us to take some shots,” Esherick said.

With their inside game suffering, Georgetown depended on its outside shooting to buoy the offense. The Hoyas responded by shooting 58.3 percent from the field in the first half, but sunk in the second, hitting only 5-of-28 shots for 17.9 percent.

“Though some of the shots we took in the second half were good, some of them were bad, and that’s something we’re going to have to work on,” Esherick said.

“Sometimes a shot might look open to the player and it’s really not a good shot, but you take and you just have to live with it,” senior guard Kevin Braswell said. “If you make it it’s a good shot, if you don’t it’s a bad shot.”

While Braswell made 3-of-14 shots for nine points, freshman guard Tony Bethel was on target in the opening minutes. Bethel spurred a 13-2 run that put the Hoyas up by eight, a lead they would increase to 10 with 6:54 left in the half. By the break, Bethel had gone 5-of-6 from the floor, including 3 of 4 from behind the three-point line, en route to 13 of his game and season-high 20 points.

Yet, despite its torrid shooting, Georgetown took only a two-point lead to the locker room. The Hoyas committed 11 turnovers, including four by Sweetney, who had only one bucket and three rebounds at intermission.

Pitt went on a 14-4 run to start the second half, punctuated by an eye-catching 360 degree fast break layup by junior point guard Brandin Knight. Although the 6-foot Knight turned the ball over six times, he led the Panthers with 10 points, seven assists and six steals, flustering the Hoyas.

“At the beginning of the second half, we didn’t do a good job of handling the ball, and missed dunks and all that stuff I thought really rattled us more than anything,” Esherick said.

Sophomore guard Julius Page scored a team-high 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting for the Panthers. Page recorded 10 of those points in the first half to help Pitt weather the Hoyas early and only run. Sophomore guard Jason Brown added 12 points and six steals. Pitt turned the ball over 13 times to Georgetown’s 18.

“When you are playing them, you have to make less mistakes than you do against other teams, because the game is going to be shorter, there’s going to be [fewer] possessions,” Esherick said. “And they’re such a good rebounding team, that you’re not going to get too many chances at the basket, so you gotta take advantage of the ones that you get.”

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