November 29, 2007

Hoyas Exact Revenge in Tidewater

November 28, 2007 - Facing a raucous, sellout crowd of 8,424 in Norfolk, Va's Ted Constant Convention Center, Georgetown (4-0) expanded upon a 30-23 halftime lead to defeat Old Dominion University (3-4), 66-48. Leading the Hoyas were seniors Roy Hibbert and Patrick Ewing, who finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and nine points, five rebounds, three assists, 1 block, respectively.

Though Hibbert would only drop three points in the second stanza, it was that statistical contribution, as well as his hustle that seemed to break a game wide open that had been tied at 21 as late as the first half's 3:24 mark: With the Hoyas leading 36-24 and the clock reading 17:28, Roy followed a defensive rebound with a nice layup, provided by his teammate, junior guard Jessie Sapp's (seven points, six assists, 1 steal) pass. Close to thirty seconds later, Hibbert created a steal by diving on the hardwood, then sprinted down court and within moments was rewarded for his effort with two foul shots, making one. ODU would face a constant deficit afterward, ranging from 12 points and mushrooming to 20 in the game's last minute.

Two other factors contributed to G'Town's revenge for their shocking 75-62 loss to the Monarchs at the Hoyas' on campus facility, McDonough arena, last year (it was their first defeat there since 1982) - team defense in addition to point production from players that had not to date this campaign, contributed greatly.

In the first half, ODU's sophomore frontcourt player, Gerald Lee was simply sensational, notching 16 points and eight rebounds (seven offensive) on 8-15 shooting. It was Lee that basically kept his team afloat despite its 28.9% shooting mark during the stanza, via his rebounding prowess (Old Dominion outrebounded the Hoyas by seven for the initial period) and deft low post moves.

At intermission, Hoya head coach coach, John Thompson III acknowledged Lee was a thorn in his team's side that needed to be removed. "We have to make the entry pass a little harder" said a clearly perturbed Thompson to former Hoya great Mark Tillmon, the color commentary man for the game's Mid-Atlantic Sports Network broadcast, before entering the locker room at halftime.

And address it they did, as despite Lee finishing with a career high 24 points to go along with 12 rebounds and 2 assists, he was basically a non-factor in the second half. "He's a terrific player" noted Thompson afterward, of Lee. "Once he gets the ball, he's such a terrific player". The coach's team did just what he determined must occur before halftime, making ODU's frontcourt standout "catch it (the ball) farther out", possibly away from his comfort zone and definitely out of offensive rebounding position (only two such boards were corralled by Gerald in the second half).

After the game, Thompson also lauded his reserve's, saying "The bench played great". For the game, G'Town's non-starters supplied 26 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Ewing and sophomore frontcourt man Vernon Macklin - who upon returning home to the Tidewater area notched six points, two rebounds and one assist in 17 strong minutes - must be mentioned, as well as freshman swingman Austin Freeman. The Hoya neophyte, or 'Puppy' finished with 11 points, one rebound and one assist, while efficiently shooting 71.4% from the floor, including one three pointer and a stunning dunk created by his back cut and a subsequent pass from Hibbert. Freeman's point and minute total (23), are both career highs.

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