March 4, 2001
Listen To Postgame Audio
Head Coach Mike Brey
By TOM COYNE
Associated Press Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Georgetown had a bye in the first-round of the Big East tournament at stake. Notre Dame already had its first ever league trophy in the locker room.
Both teams played like it.
The 21st-ranked Hoyas simply outworked No. 13 Notre Dame on Sunday, amassing a 53-36 rebounding advantage in a 79-72 victory.
“They’re the best rebounding team we’ve faced,” Notre Dame All-American forward Troy Murphy said. “They send one guy after the other. If it wasn’t (Ruben Boumtje) Boumtje it was (Mike) Sweetney or (Wesley) Wilson or (Lee) Scruggs.”
Sweetney scored 19 points, Boumtje Boumtje added 16 and they each had nine rebounds to pace the Hoyas (23-6, 10-6), who will face the winner of Wednesday’s St. John’s-Seton Hall game on Thursday.
“Our focus was just trying to win so we could get a bye,” Sweetney said.
The Irish (19-8, 11-5) had a chance at their first 20-win regular season in 12 years but lost their final two games. They beat Virginia Tech by 24 points on Feb. 24 to clinch the league’s West Division, then lost consecutive games to Connecticut and Georgetown.
“The trophy was here three or four days ago. We’ve had it in a couple of different spots in the locker room trying to figure out where we like it,” Murphy said. “We should definitely have focused more on this.”
The trophy was presented to the team after the loss, but the players didn’t look too excited about getting it.
“It was kind of an unusual week psychologically when you clinched the thing last Saturday,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “You want to push the buttons, but there’s other buttons to be pushed as well as we get into the Big East and NCAA tournaments.”
Notre Dame, which will play Thursday against the winner of the Miami-Pittsburgh first-round game, struggled offensively against Georgetown, shooting only 38 percent.
“We had a hard time getting looks over their size around the basket and even their perimeter athletic ability bothered our shooters,” Brey said. “They hurt us with their size around the basket.”
The Hoyas opened the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 46-36 lead. The Irish quickly cut the lead to six on two baskets by Murphy, but the Hoyas answered with a 10-0 run. The Irish closed to 64-58 when Matt Carroll hit a 3-pointer with 3:56 left but missed their next four shots as they lost two straight for the first time since January.
Demetrius Hunter scored 13 points, including two 3-pointers in the second half when the Irish appeared ready to make runs.
“Those 3s by Demetrius were big, big shots because those shots stopped their run,” Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said.
Braswell scored 12 points and Scruggs added 11.
Murphy had 19 points for the Irish, but was 8-for-21 from the field and fouled out with 48 seconds left. The crowd chanted “One more year” as Murphy, a junior, walked to the bench.
Brey said he expects Murphy to seriously consider turning pro after this year.
“He really has to investigate leaving school and pursuing the NBA thing. We’ll deal with that when the season ends,” Brey said.
Ryan Humphrey, Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer at 14.7 points a game, was held to five points. David Graves had 17, Matt Carroll scored 13 and Harold Swanagan had a season-high 12 points.