7:00 PM ET, March 14, 2008
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
NEW YORK (AP) -- Georgetown wasn't about to change its game plan on a whim. After Roy Hibbert went scoreless a day earlier, nobody on the bench thought twice about getting the all-Big East center the ball Friday night.He took care of things from there, and has the Hoyas playing for another tournament title.Hibbert had season-highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds, and helped ninth-ranked Georgetown withstand West Virginia's only big run midway through the second half of a 72-55 victory in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden."I knew he was going to come out hungry, so we wanted to feed him," said Jessie Sapp, who added 13 points for the Hoyas. "We wanted to keep feeding him and feeding him. We need him in the game like that for us to win."Georgetown (27-4) led 51-47 with just over 11 minutes left, but the Mountaineers didn't get another basket until Joe Alexander scored with 3:13 to go. By then, Hibbert and the Hoyas had a 20-point lead and were on their way to a rematch of last year's title game with seventh-seeded Pittsburgh."They were 15-3 in this league, and this league is the best league in the country," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "They're pretty good. ... It's hard for us to match up with a guy like Hibbert."Georgetown went to the perimeter in its quarterfinal victory over Villanova, matching a tournament record with 17 3-pointers. Hibbert had perhaps the worst game of his career in that one, going scoreless and managing just four rebounds before fouling out.A different day, a much different stat line."I'm a monster, I'm a monster. Be afraid," Hibbert said, cracking a grin while coach John Thompson III popped him upside the head. "It's just the way our team is working and making stops. I just said, 'You know what? Just keep cranking those buckets out."After 7-footer Jamie Smalligan picked up two early fouls, the defensive assignment of the 7-foot-2 center fell to Alexander, who was giving up six inches in the post and had a tough time stopping the big man's array of spin moves, follows and rim-rattling dunks.Hibbert scored 11 points in the 7 minutes Smalligan was on the bench in the first half, including just his third career 3-pointer from the top of the key that had Huggins throwing his hands up in exasperation."He's a really good player. He had a heck of a game," Huggins said. "He played very well, played very aggressively."By the time Smalligan checked back in, Georgetown was on its way to building a 33-21 halftime lead that it pushed to 15 points on Jonathan Wallace's 3 early in the second half.West Virginia countered with its best offensive stretch of the tournament.Alex Ruoff's 3-pointer with 18:50 to go energized their bench, and his 3-pointer 6 minutes later was the 10th straight possession that the Mountaineers came away with points.That's when they went cold, clanking shots off the iron and turning the ball over with silly passes and sloppy dribbling, allowing the Hoyas to pull away for their eighth win in the last nine conference tournament games."This is March in New York," Thompson said. "This is the Big East tournament, so the enthusiasm was there, the focus was there, and we were fortunate to get some bounces along the way."Da'Sean Butler had 16 points for the Mountaineers (24-10), who at least eased off the NCAA tournament bubble with two more wins. Ruoff finished with 12 points, but the Mountaineers will have to keep waiting for their first conference championship since 1984."It was a whole lot more them than us," Huggins said. "They're just good."Nearly every Georgetown player had a hand in defending Alexander, who scored 22 in the Mountaineers' tournament opener and a career-high 34 to help them upend No. 15 Connecticut in the quarterfinals.DaJuan Summers and Patrick Ewing Jr. got the call on the versatile forward most of the night, constantly pushing, shoving and grabbing at him while contesting every shot. He rarely got the ball in the post and had two or three Hoyas watching him when he crossed midcourt.Alexander missed six of his first eight shots against the nation's best field-goal percentage defense, and his first make came only after he faked Summers right off his feet on a nifty spin move in the paint. He finished with 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting."I wasn't making shots that I've normally been making lately," Alexander said. "But it was due to stuff they were doing differently, guys from the weak side coming and helping when I was driving, sometimes doubling in the post. They did a great job,"Defense has become a hallmark of the Hoyas under Thompson, whose team has held 22 opponents under 60 points this season and improved to 51-4 when scoring at least 69 points."This group has a knack for ending games," Thompson said. "We were fortunate their guys missed shots that they normally make. And they had to take 3s, and they had to take shots they don't normally take, and we were fortunate to get rebounds."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||20-49 (.408)||32-60 (.533)|
|3P Made-Attempted||8-20 (.400)||7-17 (.412)|
|FT Made-Attempted||7-10 (.700)||1-7 (.143)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||12 (0/0)||11 (0/0)|