GU Solidifies .500 Record Before Bowing Out

Miami Ousts Georgetown; Comeback Win vs. Providence Keeps NIT Hopes Afloat

By Sean P. Flynn Hoya Staff Writer

BOX SCORE: Georgetown vs. Providence BOX SCORE: Georgetown vs. Miami

Georgetown got what it needed, and that’s it.

Needing one win to make itself eligible for postseason play, the Hoyas pulled off an exciting 68-66 comeback win over the No. 7 seed Providence Friars in the first round of the Big East Tournament before being eliminated in the second round by second-seeded Miami, 65-54.

Finishing the season 15-15 overall, Georgetown has the .500 record necessary for eligibility in the National Invitational Tournament, a consolation tournament for teams that do not make the NCAA Tournament. Although Georgetown may not be that deserving of an NIT berth, history and name recognition should ensure the Hoyas of a 25th consecutive postseason. Bids for the NIT will be announced on Sunday evening, after the NCAA Tournament field is announced.

Georgetown kept its NIT hopes alive with an exciting 68-66 win over Providence in the Big East first round on Wednesday. While the stage was set for a repeat of the Hoyas’ devastating close losses, including one to the Friars only four days earlier, fate was on the Hoyas side this time.

Like last Saturday, Providence (16-13) had a chance for a game-winning shot. Last time, center Erron Maxey hit a wide-open eight-footer to give the Friars a two-point win. But this time, axey couldn’t get open and with a hand in his face could not put up a shot. A shot by guard Sean Connolly was short and a loose ball wasn’t picked up in time. The clock ran out, ensuring the Hoyas the win and a .500 record.

Freshman center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje scored 18 points, a career best, and grabbed nine rebounds in a stellar performance down low for Georgetown. Boumtje-Boumtje hit two free throws in the final 1:23 to provide the difference in the game.

“We dedicated 100 percent, 200 percent effort just to stay alive,” Boumtje-Boumtje said after the game.

With 1:23 remaining Boumtje-Boumtje missed the front end of a one-and-one, but the 6-foot-11 Cameroon native got a second chance when Providence was called for a lane violation. With another try, Boumtje-Boumtje made the front end, giving the Hoyas a 67-66 advantage.

Both teams had a series of turnovers over the next minute until Boumtje-Boumtje again went to the line with 15 seconds remaining. The first shot went in but the second rimmed out, and after a jump ball, the Friars called a timeout, setting up their final shot.

The game was the third down-to-the-wire game these two teams played. The squads split the previous two, with Georgetown winning at MCI Center 75-70 on Jan. 9, the day after Thompson’s resignation, and the Friars winning 64-62 at Providence Civic Center last Saturday on Maxey’s basket.

The Hoyas’ second-half surge helped overcome a horrendous first half of shooting. The Hoyas made 12 of 47 first-half points but stayed alive with 36 rebounds (24 offensive) en route to a 36-29 deficit.

Last night against Miami, though, Georgetown could not muster a comeback after falling behind in the second half.

Miami, ranked 10th in the nation, got its first Big East Tournament win against Georgetown since joining the conference eight years ago. The Hoyas had eliminated Miami four years in a row and six years out of seven. Last year, the Hoyas upset Miami 62-56 in the Big East first round.

In the first half, the Hoyas rode hot shooting and strong defense to an early lead. Senior center Jameel Watkins scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the half, and Georgetown entered the break with a 44-40 lead.

But in the second half, Miami started to come alive. Miami big men Mario Bland (19 points) and Co-Big East Player of the Year Tim James (12 points) erupted, while the Hoyas’ shooting died out. While the Hoyas scrapped to stay even with Miami, the Hurricanes finally took their first lead with 9:43 left. The lead reached six points before the Hoyas fought back again, cutting the lead to as low two points.

But nothing fell for Georgetown, and after being down 57-54 with as little as 2:59 remaining, the Hoyas never scored another point.

If the Hoyas are selected, the NIT first-round game would be either Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. The Washington Wizards play at MCI Center on Wednesday and Friday, while the Capitals play at home on Thursday.

Chances are Georgetown, which is on spring break and is a good draw at visiting arenas, would be sent on the road for the first-round game.

 

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