for this game

Green lifts Georgetown past Vanderbilt

Mar 24, 2007 - 7:00 AM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The Big East Player of the Year settled for player of the game.

Jeff Green banked home a jump shot with 2.5 seconds left to lift second-seeded Georgetown to a 66-65 victory over sixth-seeded Vanderbilt in an East Region semifinal matchup of the NCAA Tournament.

A 6-9 junior and the team's leading scorer, Green hit the winning shot with two defenders draped all over him to send the Hoyas into the regional final for the first time since 1996.

Green scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting as Georgetown (27-6) won for the 18th time in the last 19 games and will play top-seeded North Carolina on Sunday.

"I like to have the ball in my hands at that point in the game because I have confidence that I can make plays," Green said.

Confidence and a bit of good fortune helped Green on the winning basket. After taking a pass at the right elbow and briefly losing control of the ball, he was swarmed by defenders Ross Neltner and Shan Foster.

With the clock winding down, Green appeared to change his pivot foot before going straight up and banking in a jumper from the right of the lane.

"The play was to look for the back door or just get towards the basket, but I fumbled it," Green said. "But I recovered. I got lucky and it went in.

"I just tried to explode over the double-team and get it up off the glass."

Vanderbilt, which was routed by the Hoyas, 86-70, on November 15, couldn't get a decent shot off on its final possession as Alex Gordon's half-court heave appeared to slip out of his hands and went sideways.

"That was a terrific college basketball game," Commodores coach Kevin Stallings said. "They made one more play than we did. We needed one more stop and one more rebound and we didn't get it. Their kid made a great play."

The Hoyas, who lost to eventual champion Florida, 57-53, in the "Sweet 16" in 2006, is two wins away from getting a rematch with the Gators.

"Forty minutes away from the Final Four, we have to wait and see who we play, start to prepare for that team," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "The group, everyone out there is sticking together. Collectively we're figuring out how to win games. So that makes me extremely happy, extremely proud."

Vandy, looking to make its furthest foray in its ninth trip to NCAAs, scored its final seven points from the free-throw line, including a pair by Dan Cage that gave the Commodores (20-12) a 65-64 lead with 17.9 seconds left.

Georgetown looked like it would follow Wisconsin as the second No. 2 seed out of the tournament at the outset as Vandy buried four 3-pointers for an 18-6 lead in the first seven minutes.

The Commodores carried a 32-24 lead into the half, but the Hoyas wisely started working the ball into 7-2 center Roy Hibbert, who had just one field goal in the opening 20 minutes.

Hibbert scored eight points in a 17-6 run to start the second half, including a dunk to put Georgetown ahead, 41-38, with 13:25 to play.

"I just took it upon myself," said Hibbert, who turned in his fourth straight double-double. "I didn't have a good first half so I told myself to suck it up and just keep playing. I had a couple of big plays to start the half and get us going, and then after I fouled out my teammates finished it off."

The lead went back and forth until Vandy's Shan Foster scored five straight points, capping a 7-0 run, for a 58-54 lead with 4 1/2 minutes to go.

Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Derrick Byars drew Hibbert's fifth foul with 3:58 and converted two free throws for a 60-57 lead, fueling hopes of a second straight upset for the Commodores, who knocked off third seed Washington State in the second round.

"I thought when we got him out of the game, you know, 'cause he was alone down there, at the start of the second half in particular, he kind of exerted his will down there," Byars said. "When a guy like that goes out, it makes it easier for you to try to seek driving opportunities to the lane. You know, feed your post players some more. So, yeah, we thought that, but they have a ... bunch of good guys on their team."

Green converted a three-point play to deadlock the score at 60-60 with 3:38 left and Jonathan Wallace hit an 18-foot jumper to put the Hoyas on top, 64-61, with 1:36 remaining.

Byars and Cage hit two free throws apiece to set up Green's heroics.

"Vanderbilt did a good job of closing down the middle early on," Wallace said. "We were getting good shots, took some bad breaks every once in a while. Shots just didn't fall. We stayed patient, stuck with what we do.

"Second half we were able to open up some things and make a run."

DaJuan Summers had 15 points and Hibbert 12 and 10 rebounds before fouling out for Georgetown, which shot 53 percent (17-of-32) from the field in the second half.

Byars and Dan Cage scored 17 points apiece and Cage added 16 for the Commodores, who were dominated on the boards, 40-26.

"We knew they were good coming into the game," Gordon said. "They have the Big East Player of the Year in Jeff Green and they also have Hibbert, so they are a great team. It's just one of those things to where you take your hat off to them and hope they will win it all."