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NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Green bails out Hoyas at the finish

Last play isn't pretty, but forward makes a bank shot with two seconds left to give Georgetown a 66-65 victory over Vanderbilt.

March 24, 2007|David Wharton | Times Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Just about everything went wrong for Jeff Green in those final seconds.

The Georgetown forward looked to pass but could not find an open man. He drove toward the basket and had the ball slip in his hands. Then he ran smack into a double-team.

"I just had to go over the top of them," Green said. "It was one of those plays when things happen so fast, you just try to get it up there."

At which point, something finally went right.

His spinning shot off the backboard with two seconds remaining gave Georgetown a 66-65 comeback victory over Vanderbilt on Friday in an East Regional semifinal at Continental Airlines Arena.

The Hoyas will face top-seeded North Carolina on Sunday, with a Final Four berth on the line.

Green's last-second basket trumped strong performances by Vanderbilt stars Derrick Byars and Dan Cage, who each scored 17 points.

"It's always disappointing when you lose one like that because you can go over so many things in your head that could have gone differently," Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said. "Bottom line was, they made one more play than we did."

For the underdog Commodores, any hopes of an upset rested on scoring from outside. Early on, that's exactly what they did.

Every time the Hoyas got confused on defense or otherwise left the perimeter open, Vanderbilt made them pay a price.

Namely, three points.

The result was an eight-point lead at halftime, but the second half was a different story.

Georgetown started pounding the ball inside to center Roy Hibbert, who attacked a smaller Vanderbilt front line on his way to 12 points and 10 rebounds. Within a few minutes, the score was tied.

The Hoyas (29-6) might have taken control except Vanderbilt (22-12) made enough key shots and, with about four minutes left, Hibbert fouled out.

The end of the game went back-and-forth, setting up Green's last-second scramble.

"We knew the ball was going to him," said Vanderbilt forward Shan Foster, who was half of the double-team that confronted Green. "He's a great player."

The kind of player who can lead his team with 15 points. The kind who wants the last shot, no matter what.

"It was just a bumble play that I had to make," he said. "I got lucky and it went in."

*

david.wharton@latimes.com

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