March 23, 2007
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jeff Green squeezed between two defenders and Georgetown squeezed out a win.
Green spun and banked in a short, off-balance shot with 2.5 seconds to play and the Hoyas earned a harder-than expected 66-65 victory over Vanderbilt in the East Regional semifinals on Friday night.
The victory was the seventh straight and 18th in 19 games for second-seeded Georgetown (29-6) and put the Hoyas in the regional final for the first time in 11 years.
Vanderbilt (22-12) had one last chance to win the game but a long 3-pointer by Alex Gordon was contested by Green, the Big East player of the year.
The sixth-seeded Commodores had taken a 65-64 lead with 17.9 seconds to play when Dan Cage hit two free throws after being fouled collecting the rebound of a Patrick Ewing Jr.'s missed jumper.
After a timeout, Jessie Sapp gave it to Green at the foul line extended and let the 6-foot-9 forward go to work.
Green started to make a move, fumbled the ball. He recovered, made a turnaround move and banked home the short jumper with two Vandy players trying to stop him. Replays seemed to indicate he may have walked by switching his pivot foot.
Green came up big with the Hoyas' big man on the bench. Roy Hibbert, the 7-2 center, had fouled out with 3:58 to play and Georgetown down 58-57.
Green finished with 15 points for Georgetown, which rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit against the Commodores. Hibbert added 12 points and 10 rebounds -- mostly all in the second half. Freshman DaJuan Summers added 15 points, including three clutch 3-pointers in the second half.
Cage and SEC player of the year Derrick Byars had 17 points apiece to lead Vanderbilt, which was looking to reach the regional final for the second time in school history. Shan Foster added 16 points.
Neither team led by more than four points in the final 17 minutes, which featured eight lead changes and four ties.
Georgetown seemed ready to take control when Jonathan Wallace hit a 3-pointer with 6:21 to play to put the Hoyas ahead 54-51.
However, Byars scored on a layup and Hibbert picked up his fourth foul on a block with 5:43 to play.
After Foster put the Commodores ahead with the last of their eight 3-pointers, Ewing committed a turnover and Foster drove for a basket and a 58-54 lead with 4:45 to go.
Sapp, who was 2-of-10 from the floor, suddenly got clutch and nailed his first 3-pointer to cut the edge to a point with 4:12 left.
Hibbert then made what seemed a crucial error, fouling Byars on a long 3-point attempt. He slowly walked off the court and it seemed the Hoyas season was done.
Byars eventually hit two free throws to make it 60-57.
But Green stepped up again. The junior tipped in a missed layup by Summers and was fouled, converting a three-point play to tie the game at 60 with 3:58 to go.
Sapp put Georgetown ahead 62-60 with a driving layup with 2:03 to play.
After Ross Neltner made one of two free throws with 1:36 to go, Wallace hit a jumper with 63 seconds to play for a 64-61 lead.
Byars cut the margin to a point with two free throws with 48.8 seconds left and Cage put Vanderbilt in position for the upset with his free throws.
Georgetown came into the game with a distinct height advantage up front. Vanderbilt rarely let them use it, especially Hibbert. The Commodores fronted him on defense and collapsed two and three players around him when he did get the ball.
With the Hoyas hitting 12-of-26 from the field and Vanderbilt hitting six 3-pointers, the Commodores built a 32-24 halftime lead.
Dan Cage had eight points in an early 18-2 run that gave Vanderbilt an 18-6 edge and a late 3-pointer that helped the Commodores score the final five points of the half.