DURHAM, N.C. – It took the Hoyas less than five minutes to cut Duke’s 11-point halftime lead down to four. DaJuan Summers had scored six-straight Georgetown points and it seemed as if the Hoyas were well on their way to erasing a forgettable first period.

After Henry Sims picked up a foul trying to rebound with 15:08 left, Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III had a long conversation with referee John Cahill. The two men went their separate ways, seemingly on the same page about whatever they had been discussing.

But almost as soon as the Blue Devils began dribbling the ball up the court, Cahill, still standing in front of the Georgetown bench, blew his whistle, emphatically signaled a “T” with his hands, and pointed at Hoyas’ freshman center Greg Monroe.

Thompson and Monroe were incredulous. Monroe hadn’t said a word, read the lines on Thompson’s furrowed brow. I’m innocent, screamed Monroe’s exasperated visage. Thompson pleaded his case to each of the three referees and walked over to the scorer’s table, but to no avail.

Duke guard Jon Scheyer knocked down both technical free-throws to push the lead to six.

After that call, the Hoyas’ 6-foot-11 freshman, already parked on the bench with three fouls (all offensive) was forced to stay there even longer, saddled with his fourth personal foul. With Monroe out for nearly four minutes, the Blue Devils (16-1) reeled off a 15-3 run that all but put the game out of Georgetown’s (12-4, 3-2 Big East) reach. Duke went on to win 76-67.

Looking back, it is clear that the technical call was one of, if not the, pivotal moments of the second half. But what is not clear is whether the call was just. The scuttlebutt in much of Cameron Indoor Stadium, in the media room and in Georgetown’s post-game press conference, seemed to be that perhaps a fan in the front row was responsible for the errant remark, not Monroe.

“A lot of people were saying things. I don’t believe [Cahill] was really looking at the bench, but I know I definitely didn’t say anything,” Monroe said quietly, but firmly. “I can’t say if I heard someone else, but I know I definitely didn’t say anything.”

Asked over-and-over again about the call, Monroe was adamant in insisting that he hadn’t said a thing.

Interesting to note is that most, but not all, of the fans in the immediate vicinity of the Georgetown bench were wearing Hoyas gear.

Thompson, of course, is far too classy to attribute his team’s loss to the technical foul. And in fact, while the questionable call did put the Hoyas at a disadvantage, Georgetown still had an opportunity to dig itself out of the hole.

But either way, Georgetown was on a roll when the technical was called, and that stoppage of play, that blow to the Hoyas’ best lineup, that momentum shift was a game-changer.

“The technical was a key part of the game, let’s not try to run from that, it was a key part of the game,” Thompson said. “On top of everything, now Greg has four. It clearly altered how they attacked us and what we could do, but that’s not the reason that we ended up with less points than them tonight. They played very well.”

Thompson said after the game that in his conference with Cahill before the technical, he had been told something to the effect of, “If one of your assistants stands up again, I’m going to call a technical.” Of course, that is not what happened.

Cahill and Thompson are not strangers. Cahill called the Hoyas win at Connecticut and loss at Notre Dame. He officiated eight Georgetown games a year ago. In fact, he’s refereed 45 Hoyas’ games in his career. Fans tend to recognize his clean-cut, heavily combed gray hair.

From across the court where this reporter sat, Monroe looked to be sitting back in his seat, getting a much-needed breather and keeping to himself when Cahill blew the whistle. If he did say anything, he did so without any exaggerated movements of his mouth. There was certainly no lip reading to be done.

And mouthing off from the bench would be out-of-character for the soft-spoken newcomer.

But who knows?

Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski also recognized the importance of the technical call and the momentum swing it brought about.

“It gave us two points,” he said, matter-of-factly. “We were really horrible on three-straight offensive possessions in transition, where we could have gotten six points, and I think they ended up getting seven of those, and that’s a huge swing – potentially a 13-point swing. It was one of the worst swings of the game, and we were responsible for that. So, it just kind of stopped the game for a while, maybe we righted the ship, and we hit the free throws.”

After Duke pushed the lead to 61-45, the Hoyas could not right their ship. They narrowed the lead, but never got closer than they had been before the technical.

Georgetown did not lose because Monroe was called for a technical foul. But the Hoyas chances of a memorable comeback and a signature victory were certainly not helped by it.

Check back www.thehoya.com soon for a complete recap of Georgetown’s 76-67 loss to Duke.

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