Freshman Iverson scores 26 under Clinton's watchful eye

The Associated Press

LANDOVER, Md. Georgetown freshman Allen Iverson said he got more than his usual case of pre-game butterflies when he heard the school's No. 1 alum, President Clinton, was in the stands.

''I was kind of nervous. I'm nervous before every game, but when I heard the president was here, I got even more nervous,'' Iverson said.

He plainly was not rattled, scoring 26 points, and Georgetown (16-7 overall, 9-6 in the Big East Conference) beat No. 9 Villanova 77-52, stopping the Wildcats' 11-game winning streak that included an upset of then-No. 1 Connecticut Saturday.

The sometimes out-of-control Iverson played his most consistent game and his teammates followed suit by shooting 49 percent from the field, while holding Villanova (19-6, 12-3) to 32 percent.

''It's one loss, that's all it is,'' Villanova coach Steve Lappas said. ''I told them, 'Guys you won 11 straight, you're on a path to having a record-breaking season. I'm not going belabor the point, you played a very good team that played very, very hard tonight.' We just beat No. 1 in the country Saturday. These guys are giving their all.''

Georgetown coach John Thompson said it was as good as he'd seen his team play.

''This was our best game of the season, offensively and defensively,'' he said.

Jerome Williams added 14 points and 11 rebounds for Georgetown, which took an 11-0 lead, while Othella Harrington had 12 points.

''That's what we wanted to do, we wanted to jump on them right from the beginning and build our confidence up and take away their will to win,'' Iverson said. ''Eventually, that's what we did.''

Iverson said the key was being able to start fast, but play slow when he really wanted to.

''Basketball is not always played fast, to be a good point guard I have to be able to slow it down,'' he said.

Kerry Kittles, coming off a career-high 37 points against Connecticut, led the Wildcats with 16 points, while Eric Eberz had 13.

''They really went after the glass early, we were kind of like in quicksand, I don't know,'' Lappas said.

Georgetown, which ended a four-game losing streak Saturday at Providence, led 41-24 at halftime. The Hoyas extended the lead to 60-40 with 8:40 to play on a layup by Iverson. Perfect foul shooting down the stretch by Harrington (4-for-4) and Iverson (8-for-8) helped Georgetown increase the margin to 74-48 with 4:17 remaining.

It was Clinton's second outing in about two weeks to a local college game. He was at the Smith Center Feb. 4 when George Washington upset then-No. 1 Massachusetts 78-75.

Clinton, whose first loyalty is to the Arkansas Razorbacks of his native state, graduated from Georgetown in 1968.

He visited both locker rooms after the game.

''I told Georgetown they had a great game plan and a fabulous game. Not many teams in America could have beat them tonight,'' Clinton told reporters. ''I told Villanova not to be discouraged. I saw the game films of the Connecticut game. ... They're on a tear, Villanova is. They just can't let this get them down.''

Clinton added, ''These are two good teams and they could go a long way in the NCAAs.''

Thompson was appreciative of the president's visit.

''I'm happy for the players because the president was here,'' said Thompson. ''He's an alumnus and he came back home. I hope it was a big deal for the players. If it wasn't now, it will be at some later time.''

Having gotten over his nerves, Iverson seemed to think it was a big deal.

''It was a great experience, I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. I shook his hand and it just made my day,'' Iverson said.

Iverson, who served five months in jail in 1993 on a charge of maiming by mob stemming from a bowling alley brawl, was grateful over a number of things after his team's victory.

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