Hoyas maul Panthers for ‘Sweet’ revenge

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February 8, 2001

“We’re back.” Head Coach Craig Esherick said it best after the Hoyas’ win over West Virginia Saturday. Coming off of its first consecutive losses of the season, Georgetown put it all behind them and took two consecutive wins against the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Pittsburgh Panthers this week.

The Hoyas avenged their first loss of the season on Monday night by beating the Panthers on the road, 81-67. The keys to the Georgetown win were Mike Sweetney, Mike Sweetney and Mike Sweetney.

The first-year power forward dominated the first half of play, scoring 16 of his career-high 24 points before half time. In the Hoyas’ Inauguration night loss to the Panthers at the MCI Center, Sweetney had one of the worst performances of his career, scoring only eight points on three of 11 shooting.

The Panthers couldn’t contain the 6’8”, 260-pound Sweetney for a second consecutive game as the Hoyas did a much better job of isolating him against the Panthers’ forwards, Ricardo Greer, Donatas Zavackas and center Isaac Hawkins.

The Hoyas had an easier time isolating Sweetney in part because Coach Esherick and his three main guards?junior Kevin Braswell, sophomore Demetrius Hunter and senior Anthony Perry?did a good job of increasing the tempo of the game. This gave Sweetney easy one-on-one opportuntites in Georgetown’s early offense.

In the half court, Georgetown had much better spacing than it did in the team’s three losses. Three-point shots by Braswell and first-year small forward Gerald Riley to open the Hoyas’ scoring made Pittsburgh respect the Hoyas’ spacing.

After the two early threes made the score 6-2, Sweetney scored the Hoyas’ next four points and 10 of Georgetown’s first 23. Combined with intelligent defense that prevented Panther shooters such as Zavackas from getting any rhythym, the Hoyas grabbed a 42-22 half-time lead.

In the second half, the Hoyas quickly put any hopes of a comeback to rest. They built a lead as large as 25 points, going ahead 53-28 on a score by senior center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje. The Panthers did attempt to get back into the game, but were never really a threat.

Besides Sweetney, Braswell scored 15, and Riley, breaking out of a slight slump, had 10 points. Riley did continue a bad streak with five fouls in only 16 minutes. Braswell had only three assists against four turnovers, partly because he was limited to 26 minutes due to first-half foul problems. He also picked up two first-half fouls in the previous game against Pittsburgh, a major factor in the Hoyas’ loss.

This time, Hunter and Perry with a little help from Trenton Hillier, didn’t miss much running the Hoya offense for the rest of the half. Senior forward Nat Burton also picked up the play-making slack with four assists in the game.

Hunter, Sweetney and sophomore forward Victor Samnick came out strong to help bring the Hoyas a 94-77 victory against West Virginia. Hunter dominated the first half, hitting six of nine from the field, connecting on all four attempts from beyond the three-point line. In twenty-six minutes of play, he also contributed three assists and four steals before sitting out with an injured achilles tendon.

Sweetney was the leading scorer with 20 points, going 7 of 11. As in the Pittsburgh contest, the guards’ ability to push the ball up the court opened things up for the power forward. On one play midway through the first half, Hunter and Braswell started a fast break with expert passing from right to left. They then dished to Sweetney, who was trailing in the center, for the slam.

Samnick also played an excellent game, contributing 14 points and four tremendous blocks. Boumtje Boumtje was also a key player in the game, hitting 6 of 6 free throws and ripping down 10 rebounds.

The Hoyas’ free throw shooting was an impeccable 81 percent, which contributed 30 free points to their win. They also held on to the ball, resulting in only nine turnovers, and had 15 steals. Defensively, Georgetown held the Mountaineers to only 51 shots and pressured them into 23 turnovers.

The two wins showed that the Hoyas have a balanced attack. They have plenty of people who can step up and play strong. If Georgetown plays smart, and doesn’t rely too heavily on any one player, chances are the Hoyas will keep winning and move back up in the Big East.

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