Georgetown Gets Free Pass

The old familiar demons of poor shooting, untimely turnovers and lack of a credible inside game came back to haunt West Virginia and helped the Georgetown Hoyas send the Mountaineers to a deceptively close 84-77 loss at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C., Saturday. Throw in an almost unheard-of 42-6 gap in foul shots, and you know almost all you need to know about this game.

The Hoyas had a 9-0 lead before the Mountaineers got off their first decent shot, and, as so often has been the case this season, that set the tone for the game. Georgetown led 20-10 at the 10-minute mark of the first half, as West Virginia predictably had no answer for the Hoyas' Michael Sweetney inside, and no answer for Gerald Riley outside. Sweetney finished with a game-high 27 points, with Riley adding 21 to lead the Hoyas.

Taking advantage of Sweetney's strength inside and timid, perimiter-oriented offensive play by the Mountaineers, the Hoyas methodically moved out to a 12-point halftime lead.

The trend continued in the second half as the Hoyas continued to score when they needed to, opening a 20-point lead at the 10-minute mark before the Mountaineers began double-teaming Sweetney inside and applied a full-court press in an attempt to whittle away at the lead.

For a while it looked as if the late strategy would work, as West Virginia pulled to within 15, then to within 10, and finally within five as the clock wound under two minutes. But the Mountaineers committed a number of crucial turnovers and missed several shots that would have allowed them to get closer or tie, forcing them to foul as time ran out, and Sweetney and point guard Kevin Braswell went a combined 6-7 in the final minutes to seal the victory.

Georgetown won this game at the free-throw line -- the Mountaineers actually outshot the Hoyas from the field, hitting on 33 of an incredible 75 attempts while Georgetown took only 58 shots. But the Mountaineers got to the line only twice in the first half and three times in the second, while Georgetown shot 42 free throws, hitting on 33. Sweetney was 11-13 from the line.

Chris Moss recorded another double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, but got minimal inside help when it would have counted from Chaz Briggs (7 points, 7 rebounds, 4 fouls) and Chris Garnett (8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 fouls). Lionel Armstead added 14 points, mostly in the final five minutes, and Drew Schifino scored 13 before fouling out.

The Hoyas outrebounded West Virginia 42-30, with many of those coming on the offensive end, and most coming simply because the Georgetown players were stronger and more agressive on the glass. Time and again they simply jumped over the smaller, lighter Mountaineers for rebounds despite not having inside position.

West Virginia, now 8-12 and 1-7 in conference play, is almost certain to miss the Big East tournament. The Mountaineers need to win out to even think of the post-season -- an almost impossible task given the schedule.

The Mountaineers continue their road trip at No. 10 Syracuse for a Big Monday showdown on ESPN. The Orangemen won 75-69 in Morgantown on January 12.

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