|Georgetown's Otto Porter, right, pushes past Pittsburgh's Nasir Robinson during the second round of the Big East NCAA college basketball conference tournament in New York, Wednesday, March 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)|
No. 13 Hoyas beat Pitt 64-52 in Big East 2nd round
NEW YORK—Pittsburgh isn't used to having a season end anywhere but in the NCAA tournament.
The Panthers' run of 10 straight appearances in the field that determines the national champion -- the longest current streak in the Big East -- appears over.
A 64-52 loss to No. 13 Georgetown on Wednesday in the second round of the Big East tournament left the Panthers with a 17-16 record and thoughts of possibly playing in another postseason event.
"Yeah, obviously we knew we had to win this tournament here, and obviously it's been a nice streak and something that I guess only a few schools have done more," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said of the postseason run that is one seven current ones that long in Division I.
"But right now, it's all about this game and how we feel after this one for us, for me personally I should say, and I just felt we were going to play better. I thought we were going to play better. We played well to start the game, did some good things. I thought we defended pretty well, but as the game progressed, we continued to foul and then our attack against the zone just did not live up to what we needed to do."
Still, the Panthers can keep playing.
"Yeah, I'll play in the NIT," senior guard Ashton Gibbs said. "It's basketball at the end of the day. That's what we came to college for is to play basketball. Just wherever we can play, we're definitely going to play our hardest."
Henry Sims had 20 points, 13 rebounds and five assists to lead the Hoyas.
"I thought he was very good today in terms of his effectiveness on the block, his effectiveness as a passer and his decision-making out there," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "We're pretty good when we get that kind of effort out of him, smart effort, when he produces like today."
Sims, who came in averaging 11.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists, wasn't alone in leading Georgetown's frontline.
Freshman Otto Porter had a season-high 20 points for the Hoyas and finished 7 for 11 from the field -- just off Sims'7-of-10 effort.
"I just tried to step up for my team when it comes down to playing hard and things like that," said Porter, whose previous career-high was 19 points against Marquette in the final game of the regular season.
The fifth-seeded Hoyas (23-7) will play fourth-seeded Cincinnati in the quarterfinals on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Georgetown lost to eventual champion Connecticut in the second round of last year's Big East tournament.
"When it came to the tournament last year we had an early exit, and me and (fellow senior) Jason (Clark) talked and we didn't want that to happen this year, and I did my best to make sure that didn't happen today," Sims said.
Gibbs had 14 points for the 13th-seeded Panthers, who went through two 8-minute scoring droughts during the game and couldn't recover from Georgetown's 16-2 run to close the first half that gave the Hoyas a 31-23 lead.
"Obviously I thought we got off to a good start. We did some good things," Dixon said. "We attacked the zone, did some pretty good things as the game progressed. We didn't do what we needed to do as far as rebounding and that was clearly a deficiency in our area."
Greg Whittington added 11 points for the Hoyas, who shot 48.7 percent from the field for the game (19 of 39) and finished 22 of 31 from the free throw line compared to the Panthers' 11 of 18. Georgetown finished with a 36-25 rebound advantage.
This was the 17th time this season Georgetown held an opponent below 60 points. The Hoyas entered the game second in the conference, allowing 59.0 points per game.
"Our zone was effective tonight," Thompson said.
Porter scored the first six points in a 9-1 run that gave Georgetown a 53-39 lead with 8:46 to play. The Hoyas extended the lead to 64-45 on two free throws by Sims with 2:55 to play. Pittsburgh, which beat St. John's 73-59 in the opening round, scored the last seven points of the game.
"I think it had come to a stretch where Henry had a little bit of success and they were starting to play attention to him," Thompson said. "I think they were doubling a little off of Otto and so he hit a couple of shots in the middle of that zone and then he got to feeling good and his teammates did a good job of finding him for open looks."
Pittsburgh won the regular season meeting with Georgetown 72-60 on Jan. 28, and that had a lot to do with Sims' effort on Wednesday.
"That was a major focus, protecting the paint this game because last time they had layups and dunks for almost all their points, so we made sure we held that to a minimum today," Sims said.
Pittsburgh was the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the last three Big East tournaments, but the Panthers lost their first game each of those years.
"Yeah, it's tough," Pitt's Nasir Robinson said. "I mean, obviously this is the first time in our lives we've gone through this situation. We're just going to finish off strong, NIT or whatever, we're just going to finish off strong and keep fighting."