Hoyas exert defense

THE BALTIMORE SUN

There is good defense and there is horrible shooting, and they met yesterday in an opening-round game of the NCAA men's tournament's Minneapolis Regional. The result was a throwback final score at the University of Dayton Arena, where No. 7 seed Georgetown clawed out a 54-49 victory over No. 10 Northern Iowa.

It was the Hoyas' first NCAA victory in five years.

"The first game, I think we got the jitters out," said Ashanti Cook, who had two free throws and a clinching dunk in the closing seconds. "Now it's time to play basketball. We're not here to participate - we're here to win the whole thing."

This was not a pretty affair, nor was Northern Iowa's performance in the second half. The Panthers led the Hoyas 30-26 when it started. But in the next 17:40, they managed eight points on 2-for-18 shooting (11.1 percent) from the field.

They would make four of their last six shots, would score more points (11) in the last 2:20 than they did in those first 17:40. But that was too little far too late to catch the Hoyas (22-9), who moved onto a meeting tomorrow with Ohio State.

"We wanted to make sure they had no easy lanes to the basket. If they looked in there, we wanted them to see four guys," Georgetown center Roy Hibbert said of his team's defensive effort. "Then we wanted to scatter and cover their shooters."

Hibbert, at 7 feet 2, was a head taller than any defender Northern Iowa could throw at him, which gave him easier looks than the Panthers shooters received. He took advantage to go 8-for-10 on his way to 17 points, yet the Hoyas were still up only one point with eight minutes remaining.

That is when Cook stepped forward to hit a three and a 17-footer that pushed his team's lead to six at 5:02. Then, with Northern Iowa fouling late, he calmly dropped four straight free throws in the final seconds.

Senior guard John Little made all of his five shots, four of them from behind the arc. His fourth three-pointer set a career high and put Northern Iowa up 27-20 late in the half.

The Hoyas clamped down on him in the second half, holding him to 1-for-4 shooting and 17 points overall. And, none of the Panthers could prevent Hibbert from taking over.

"They have such a good offensive team ... and do a good job of hitting people where they have a chance for success," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said of Northern Iowa. "I think we did a good job of making them take tough, contested shots.

"But a lot of it was we were just fortunate they missed their shots."

Northern Iowa (23-10) tied the school record with 23 wins this season, but headed into the tournament in a 2-5 slump that carried over. Their three NCAA losses have been by five points or fewer.

VILLANOVA 58, MONMOUTH 45 --Allan Ray returned from a scary eye injury to score 19 points, Randy Foye added 17, and the top-seeded Wildcats (26-4) defeated the Hawks (19-15) in Philadelphia despite shooting 31 percent.

Monmouth never let Villanova make a serious run and benefited from the Wildcats constantly putting up quick shots down the stretch.

The Wachovia Center was packed, though it seemed more fans came in their Irish green than Villanova blue. Without that decided home-court advantage, the neutral fans started pulling for the underdog Hawks. Monmouth kept the game competitive and gave their newfound fans a reason to cheer.

"It was a nice atmosphere," Hawks coach Dave Calloway said. "It was nice we had a chance."

The Hawks gave everything they could trying to pull off the first 16-over-1 upset. Dejan Delic led the way for Monmouth, the Northeast Conference champions, in the second half.

He scored nine straight points, including a three-pointer from the right corner with 6:22 left that made it 47-40.

Delic calmly made two free throws with 3:52 to go that kept the deficit at 10. He finished with 17 points.

The Wildcats missed 12 of 16 shots to start, and the three-point shooting that has carried them most of the season began only 1-for-7.

But Monmouth wasn't any better. The Hawks missed their first 12 shots, in nearly every variety. There were airballs, in-and-outs, and plenty off the front of the rim.

Finally, Villanova mustered two three-pointers from Ray and one from Foye to lead 27-16 at halftime.

OHIO STATE 70, DAVIDSON 62 -- Ron Lewis came off the bench to score 16 of his 19 points in the second half, and the second-seeded Buckeyes (26-5) held off the Wildcats (20-11) in Dayton, Ohio.

The Buckeyes were in trouble for much of the game, beset by bad shooting and the inspired play of the Southern Conference tournament champions.

When the Big Ten regular-season champion was 1-for-14 on three-pointers, Lewis hit two in a row to give Ohio State its first lead in more than 16 minutes.

Lewis, a transfer from Bowling Green, then stole a pass at the other end, with Terence Dials, the Big Ten's player of the year, scoring at the other end. After two Davidson missed shots, Lewis then assisted as Dials scored inside to cap the 10-0 run and give the Buckeyes a 42-35 lead with 11 minutes left.

"In the first half, they were double- and triple-teaming me," Dials said. "I couldn't get my shot off real clean. I tried to manufacture points in other ways, getting offensive rebounds. Once I did that, things started to open up for me."

The Wildcats got as close as 49-46 on Brendan Winters' steal and jumper with 7 1/2 minutes left, but J.J. Sullinger scored on a short jumper and Dials had a three-point play and Ohio State's lead never fell below five points again.

Davidson's fans made up a small but vocal segment of the partisan Ohio State crowd. They had a lot to cheer in the opening half.

The Wildcats led 29-25 at the break, frustrating the Buckeyes who had difficulty scoring inside or out. Ohio State shot less than 30 percent from the field for the half.

The Buckeyes turned things around, thanks to Lewis and Dials, in the second half. They shot 54 percent from the field and finished the game with only four turnovers.

Ian Johnson matched his career high with 26 points and also had 10 rebounds for the Wildcats. Winters, Davidson's leading scorer at 17.1 points a game, finished with 10 points on 5-of-16 shooting from the field.

ARIZONA 94, WISCONSIN 75 -- Playing in his hometown of Philadelphia, Mustafa Shakur had 17 points and nine assists, Hassan Adams scored 21 and Ivan Radenovic added 18 for the Wildcats (20-12), who shot 59 percent (35-for-59) against the Badgers (19-12).

Adams was back from a two-game suspension after the senior was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

"It was tough last week without Hassan," Wildcats coach Lute Olson said. "He's a great competitor. The more there is on the line, the better he plays. He's a winner. We need his leadership. It was great to have him back."

Alando Tucker scored 19 for Wisconsin, which finished with four consecutive losses.

A tight game was expected in a matchup featuring two teams that reached the quarterfinals last season.

The Wildcats' man-to-man defense smothered Wisconsin early, holding the Badgers to 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting through the first 11-plus minutes. Meanwhile, Arizona made 14 of its first 20 shots and led 35-11.

Skip Myslenski writes for the Chicago Tribune. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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