Charles Nailen/The Hoya Notre Dame held on through two overtimes and overcame Georgetown.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – To watch Georgetown play the final seconds of regulation and of each of two overtimes against No. 11 Notre Dame on Saturday, one would think that the Hoyas had never played in a close game before.

But the 93-92 double-overtime loss was an all too familiar fate for the Hoyas.

“I’m becoming an expert on explaining what we’ve done at the end of overtime losses, and I’m getting kind of tired of it,” Head Coach Craig Esherick said after the game.

Georgetown (10-7, 2-5) had just come off an overtime loss to Seton Hall on Jan. 29, and five of their seven losses this season have been by seven or fewer points. Last season, they lost to Notre Dame (18-3, 6-1) in a quadruple-overtime contest.

This time, the loss was due to a mental mistake of large proportions.

At the end of regulation, the Hoyas had come back from a 15-point deficit to tie the game. After Notre Dame’s Tom Timmermans sunk a free-throw to make it 69-69 with 15 seconds to go, the Hoyas took a timeout, where Craig Esherick told his team to run a motion offense play that would get the ball to junior forward ike Sweetney.

But when play resumed, the Hoyas passed the ball around the perimeter between junior guard Gerald Riley, sophomore forward Darrell Owens and freshman forward Brandon Bowman – none of them were able to find Sweetney. And when the buzzer sounded, a self-described “dumbfounded” Bowman was still holding the ball; the Hoyas had failed to put up a shot.

“We just lost track of the clock and didn’t get a shot off,” Sweetney said.

“[The play] didn’t work. It didn’t work, and we went into overtime. We obviously, clearly, made a mistake. We all made a mistake, but that’s what happened,” Esherick said.

In overtime, the Hoyas went back and forth with sharp-shooting Irish guard Matt Carroll, who finished with 36 points, and floor general Chris Thomas, who scored 24. After a pair of Carroll free-throws put the Irish up three with six seconds remaining, the Hoyas’ Hall took the ball the length of the court and tied the game with a pull-up trey with 4.4 seconds to go.

“Drew made some great plays,” Esherick said. “This may have been Drew’s best game of the season.”

Notre Dame’s Thomas took the ball down court and tried for a layup as the buzzer sounded, but the ball rimmed out, sending the game into a second overtime.

Thomas fouled out early in the period, but the Irish had freshman Chris Quinn to be their point guard in his place. The Hoyas’ Riley was also called for his fifth foul, leaving Georgetown without two of its starting guards – sophomore Tony Bethel had fouled out during regulation.

Nevertheless, Georgetown was able to tie it up with two free-throws from Hall with 10.9 seconds remaining. After the shots, Irish junior guard Torrian Jones was fouled by the Hoyas’ Owens. He made one of his free-throws to make it 93-92 with four seconds left.

Jones’ free-throw would be the game-winner, as Hall took the ball down court and launched an errant three as time ran out.

Drew’s 2-for-3 three-point shooting may have come as a surprise to those who had seen him play with what looked like damaged confidence against Seton Hall. In one sequence toward the end of that game, Hall had passed up the chance to shoot an open three-pointer. Against the Irish, however, Hall rarely appeared hesitant.

“It was just wide open [with 4.4 seconds left in the first overtime], and I had to take it. I mean, if I didn’t take this one we probably would have been in kind of big trouble,” Hall said after the game.

Sweetney’s performance was nothing short of monstrous. His career-high 38 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks, three assists and two steals were met with little effective defense from the Irish, despite their attempts to double- and triple-team him. But after the game, the Hoya co-captain said his personal performance was little consolation.

“I could score 100 points myself and if we don’t win, I’m still not happy. I want to get wins,” he said.

Sweetney’s play inspired chants of “You can’t stop him,” from a small but vocal contingent of Georgetown fans who had made the trip to South Bend and were seated together next to the student section.

However, their voices were mostly drowned out in the crowd of 11,418 at Joyce Convention Center, who stood and cheered for much of the game. The particularly raucous Notre Dame student section took shots at most of the Hoyas’ roster in the form of organized cheers and chants.

“I can’t remember the crowd being that loud ever since I’ve been here. They helped us on defensive possessions and gave us some energy, especially when we were down in front of our [student section],” Irish Head Coach Mike Brey said.

Another close loss was further evidence for those who accuse the Hoyas of playing to the level of their opponents – the same team who was leading then-No. 1 Duke at halftime on Jan. 8 lost twice to unranked Seton Hall.

“Certain games, we play a top-ranked team, a good team, and we’re out there ready to play. And then against a team that’s not ranked or anything like that, we still compete with them. And I think there are a lot of games we’ve had this year, where we should have won these games, and it didn’t happen,” Sweetney said.

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