Brewer’s circus shot leads to Gators win

C.J. Spang

An impossible shot and a shot that looked impossible to miss were what Florida and Georgetown’s Sweet 16 game came down to.

The Gators’ Corey Brewer hit a ridiculous shot as he fell to the ground and the Hoyas’ Darrel Owens was unable to hit his open three-point attempt in the final seconds of Florida’s 57-53 NCAA Tournament win Friday at the Metrodome.

“During a tournament all the games are kind of like this,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “We were very, very fortunate to win. It could have gone either way.”

But early on, the game didn’t look as though it would come down to those two shots.

Seventh-seeded Georgetown (23-10) took control of the game in the opening half, grabbing the biggest lead of the game, 21-12, with 8:41 left in the game.

Florida (30-6) found its shooting touch in a big way at that point, however, knocking down five of its next eight shots and all six of its free throws.

That stretch allowed the third-seeded Gators to grab their second lead of the game, 28-26, with 4:50 left in the first half.

But the Hoyas’ defense clamped down and held Florida scoreless for the rest of the period to take a 30-28 halftime lead.

“I was really disappointed at the way we came out to start the game,” Donovan said. “I don’t know what it was. It’s the first time that any of the guys on our team have been to this point (in the tournament) Ö we almost looked like were phased a bit.”

The two teams found themselves deadlocked at 49-49 with 3:03 remaining in the game, then traded baskets until Georgetown pulled ahead 53-52 after senior guard Ashanti Cook banked in a jumper.

With under a minute to play and trailing by one point, Florida got the ball to Joakim Noah – its go-to guy.

Noah did it all that night, scoring 15 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking five shots, but was unable to hit the potential game-winner under the basket.

However, Brewer came through in the clutch.

“First of all, I want to thank Corey Brewer for saving my butt because I missed a wide-open one at the end,” Noah said. “He gave me a great pass and I missed it, and that could have really lost the game.”

Brewer drove to the basket, spun to split the defense and was fouled. As he fell to the ground he threw up a shot that went in, and then converted the free throw to seal the Gators’ win.

“Not to say anything about Corey, but a lot of luck comes into making shots like that,” Noah said as Brewer grinned and nodded in agreement. “I want to thank Corey for making it.”

The Hoyas had a chance to win it on the other end as Brewer fell to the ground giving Owens an open look at a three-pointer to win it.

But the shot was too strong and clanged off the back of the iron, resonating with it the end of Georgetown’s season.

“We got what we wanted, wide open shot,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “It didn’t go in. That’s the breaks.”

When asked if the Hoyas could take any solace in bringing the program back to respectability, sophomore center Roy Hibbert answered candidly.

“Actually, we are not satisfied at all,” Hibbert said. “We came here to win. We are not satisfied with just being in the Sweet 16 or being in the NCAA Tournament Ö We are going to have to work twice as hard next year.”