For Georgetown, Road is Kind at Pitt

By Sean P. Flynn Hoya Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH – Georgetown ended a three-game losing streak by beating a disorganized Pittsburgh team, 79-71, Saturday night before a full house of 6,798 fans in Fitzgerald Field House.

Led by a choking defense that held Panther star Vontego Cummings to only four points and four assists before fouling out, Georgetown won its second game of the Craig Esherick era and its first since Jan. 9.

The victory gave the Hoyas their second Big East win, while Pittsburgh’s record fell to 1-7 in league play.

Cummings, an All-Big East candidate and Pitt’s leading scorer, dominated the Hoyas last Feb. 17 when he scored 32 points in an 80-79 Pittsburgh win. This time, he was almost completely shut down by the Hoyas, namely sophomore Nat Burton, who hounded the 6-foot-5 senior with occasional help from freshman guard Kevin Braswell and sophomore guard Anthony Perry.

“The reason why we played so well today, probably was because Vontego Cummings had such a good game the last time we played [Pittsburgh] that we really focused on him in the scouting report,” said Esherick after his fifth game as Georgetown’s head coach.

“Nat Burton did a fabulous job. I don’t know anybody in the Big East that’s playing better defense than Nat. He did a great job on [Providence’s] Jamel Thomas. He did a great job on [St. John’s] Ron Artest. He did a great job on Vonteego Cummings, and those three guys, I would think, are on most people’s All-Big East team,” Esherick said.

Meanwhile, the Hoyas’ size and hustle down low thwarted the Panthers’ chances inside, with the Hoyas’ dominance on the boards (52-31 rebounding advantage) allowed Pittsburgh few second chances.

“I thought we did a great job in the first half rebounding the ball on the offensive end,” Esherick said, “and that set the tone of the game.”

The Hoyas’ play on offense wasn’t particularly smooth. While four Hoyas – Braswell, Burton (15 points, 11 rebounds), Perry (14 points) and senior swingman Daymond Jackson (10 points) – reached double digits in scoring, poor passing led to 22 turnovers, including 10 by Braswell.

For the second straight game, redshirt freshman center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje played sub-par offensively, telegraphing his passes from the post and timidly going to the basket. Six-foot-10 senior forward Jameel Watkins, while he did grab 11 rebounds, was largely ineffective himself, scoring only six points. When the two committed turnovers on the Hoyas first two plays, Esherick opted for a smaller lineup, entering Jackson and 6-foot-6 senior forward Trez Kilpatrick into the rotation while keeping only one big man in. Watkins only played four minutes in the second half.

“I think we got a lot more mobility out of that lineup than we did out of the two big guys,” Esherick said.

The Panthers, rocked by an off-the-court theft scandal that led to last week’s dismissals of Fred Primus and Jason Boyd, picked up their ninth loss in 12 games by playing an equally undisciplined game. While talking a lot of trash and complaining to officials, in actuality Pittsburgh was unimpressive. Forward Attila Cosby, one of the most vocal, was less successful than his mouth, getting 12 points on 6-for-15 shooting and fouling out with 3:20 remaining in the game. Cummings, Cosby, forward Ricardo Greer and guard Jeremy Holmes all fouled out.

The only bright spot for Pitt was the play of center Isaac Hawkins, who made 12 of his 17 shots en route to a game-high 28 points.

The sluggish Pitt offense hampered the Panthers’ chance at coming back, although a Georgetown lead, which reached 17 points at one point in the second half, was cut to five with 2:43 left. After a Pittsburgh timeout, a full-court inbounds pass by Kilpatrick found a wide open Perry who made the layup to make it 67-60. On Pittsburgh’s next possession, Cummings was called for a charge, his fifth personal foul, and two free throws by Boumtje-Boumtje three seconds later put Georgetown up nine with 2:26 left.

Georgetown and Pittsburgh meet again on Feb. 2 at MCI Center.

 

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