Georgetown comes up short

Brewer saves day for Florida with off-balance shot, three-point play

Florida 57 Georgetown 53

Ncaa Tournament

March 25, 2006|By DAVE CURTIS | DAVE CURTIS,ORLANDO SENTINEL

MINNEAPOLIS -- Sitting on the court, Corey Brewer watched his off-balance shot touch off the backboard and drop through the basket.

Brewer leaped to his feet and began screaming, celebrating the biggest basket of his life on the biggest stage of his career.

Brewer's six-foot jumper, which came after an offensive rebound and a stumble down the lane, gave Florida a one-point lead with 27.5 seconds to play last night.

His ensuing free throw, and two later from Al Horford, provided the final margin of victory - Florida 57, Georgetown 53 - and put the Gators in the NCAA's Elite Eight for the first time since their run to the national final in 2000.

"The guy grabbed my arm," said Brewer of one of the Georgetown defenders he split. "I just threw it up. And it went in."

And that gave the Gators, seeded third in this Minneapolis Regional, a matchup with top-seeded Villanova in tomorrow's regional final.

Those points, Brewer's first of the second half, brought some redemption for a sophomore who has struggled much of the season in similar situations. In both Florida losses to Tennessee, he committed a late turnover that led to the Vols' game-winning baskets.

Even Florida's previous brightest late-game moment - Joakim Noah's basket to beat South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference tournament title game - came on an offensive rebound of a Brewer air ball.

But Brewer was the hero last night, grabbing the rebound of a Noah miss and heading back toward the basket.

"I want to thank Corey Brewer for saving my butt," Noah said. "He gave me a great pass and I missed a layup."

After Brewer's heroics, he nearly turned goat, slipping and allowing Darrel Owens an open look for a three-pointer. But the shot hit the back of rim and Horford, fouled on the rebound, sank two free throws with 6.6 seconds left to clinch it.

The exchange capped a wild finish to a low-scoring but exciting game. The teams entered the final five minutes tied at 46 and spent the rest of the evening trading shots, two teams few figured would play on this stage fighting to play here again.

Taurean Green's three-pointer put the Gators ahead 49-46, but Owens answered three possessions later to tie it.

Lee Humphrey's three-pointer from the right corner with 2:19 remaining gave the Gators a 52-51 lead, but the Hoyas answered on the next possession when Ashanti Cook banked in a fadeaway 16-footer.

Dave Curtis writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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