Georgetown commenced a new era of Hoya hoops on Saturday, winning its biggest game since Allen Iverson led the Hoyas to the Elite Eight in 1996.

Sure, there have been big wins since then, but none bigger than the 72-61 victory over Syracuse that all but clinched Georgetown’s first trip to the NCAA tournament in four years.

There was Georgetown’s 115-111 triple overtime victory over Virginia in last year’s NIT, but it was the `other’ postseason tournament, after all. The win over Syracuse in last year’s Big East tournament was the beginning of Georgetown’s turnaround, but it would have been bigger had it been the finals and not the quarterfinals. The 1998-99 season didn’t see any truly big wins for the team, and the previous years were pretty much the same.

In 1996,Georgetown outgunned Texas Tech 98-90 to make its first visit to the Elite Eight since the 1988-89 season – Alonzo ourning’s freshman season – and Saturday got the Hoyas headed back to similar heights.

The game was big in a number of ways for the Hoyas, who suffered through a tough one-month stretch prior to defeating the Orangemen. It was the best game Georgetown played since defeating Seton Hall on the road on Jan. 15. It halted a 3-6 stretch in conference play and ended a painful streak of six straight regular-season losses to the Hoyas’ biggest rival. It saw sophomore guard Demetrius Hunter give the best game of his Georgetown career while playing on a tender Achilles tendon.

Most importantly, it gave the Hoyas their most impressive win of the season and returned Georgetown to where it belongs – in the NCAA tournament among the elite of the college basketball world.

It was a solid team performance (notwithstanding the free-throw line), but more than anyone else, Georgetown can thank Hunter for the impressive victory. Hunter was devastating in his 34 minutes on the court, scoring 21 points on just 12 shots and shooting 4 of 7 from downtown while turning the ball over just once.

Holding the lead for all but 33 seconds in the game, the Hoyas had an answer for the Orangemen every time Syracuse made a run whether it was Hunter or someone else on the team. Junior point guard Kevin Braswell had a solid game with 14 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals, combining with Hunter to notch 35 points for Georgetown’s starting backcourt versus only 17 for that of Syracuse.

The Orange backcourt was shut down thanks to great perimeter defense from Hunter, Braswell and senior Nat Burton – Allen Griffin and Preston Shumpert combined to shoot 1 of 14 from the field.

In the frontcourt, aggressive play from senior center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje and freshman power forward Mike Sweetney caused both DeShaun Williams and Billy Celuck to foul out for Syracuse. Boumtje-Boumtje continued his resurgence with 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, two of which came in the closing minutes on the same Syracuse possession.

In fact, Georgetown played well enough to blow out Syracuse had they not been absolutely abominable from the charity stripe. The Hoyas are a mediocre free-throw shooting team, but 12 of 28 from the line (43 percent) is ridiculous. Had Georgetown shot as well as the Syracuse from the line, the Hoyas would have won by 20 points; rather, at many points in the second half they seemed prepared to hand the Orangemen the game on a platter.

But they didn’t. Georgetown was the clutch team in the closing minutes while Syracuse choked. (Much like the MCI Center security guards who felt the need to choke, shove, clothesline and generally maim the students trying to rush the court after a huge win. Now we know why they decided to put all the students at one end of the court. Nice to see that oversized, overzealous goons provide a useful service to society – maybe they can just set up an electric fence next time.)

Minor complaints notwithstanding, if the Hoyas can continue to put together performances like this, they will be playing deep into the month of March. Georgetown is now tied with Syracuse and West Virginia for second place in the Big East West division and the all-important bye in the first round of the Big East tournament next week.

Best of all, Georgetown’s destiny is in its own hands. Wins against Rutgers and Notre Dame to close the season will clinch second place in the division and a bye in the Big East. Three wins in the Big East Tournament will get the Hoyas a great seed in the NCAA tournament, possibly as high as No. 3. Six wins in the NCAA tournament and the Hoyas have another . wait, maybe I’m getting a tiny bit ahead of myself.

One game at a time. Lay the smack down on Rutgers tomorrow.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.