Men’s Basketball | Smith-Rivera Leads Comeback in 74-73 Win Over Creighton

Senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera entered the final 1:32 of the game with 12 points; at the final buzzer, he had finished with 19. Behind his 5-of-6 from the free-throw line and a clutch layup, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (13-8, 6-2 Big East) pulled out a 74-73 home win against Creighton (14-7, 5-3 Big East).

The Hoyas got out to an early lead but failed to keep up with the Bluejays’ relentless rebounding and trailed from the end of the first half onwards.

“It felt like we dominated the game for the most part, for 37 minutes, and we didn’t execute very well late,” Creighton Head Coach Greg McDermott said of his team’s performance. “As their coach, I have to find a way to bring my team home in that situation, and I didn’t do my job today.”

The Hoyas came alive late in the game, forcing crucial turnovers on Bluejays junior guard Maurice Watson Jr., who, despite his poor play down the stretch, finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. However, it was his six turnovers, including a late turnover caused by freshman forward Kaleb Johnson, that ultimately sealed the game.

“I just knew I had to make a play and I did,” Johnson said of his clutch steal.

Johnson took the ball down to the other end for a dunk that brought the crowd alive and brought the Hoyas within one.

The Hoyas were then able to capitalize on two missed free throws by the Bluejays. With 23 seconds left, Smith-Rivera drove the length of the court and attacked the heart of the Creighton defense, drawing a huge foul call, which led to a pair of game-winning free throws. No play was drawn up, and Smith-Rivera controlled the entire possession himself.

“What the world doesn’t see … we’re in a timeout and he’s telling everyone, ‘Calm down, we’re going to win,’” Head Coach John Thompson III said of the senior guard’s composure down the stretch. “It’s one of those things; you’re frustrated where things are going, and he’s calming everyone down and then he goes out and makes the plays to make us win. So, I mean he’s one of the best in the country and if you’re coming down to the end, I’m going with him.”

Despite not shooting the ball well the entire game, Smith-Rivera delivered when it mattered, bringing the Hoyas to victory in a game that saw them behind by as much as 11 with 2:32 left in the game.

“I just knew we needed plays to be made and he didn’t call a timeout, he didn’t try and draw anything up,” Smith-Rivera said of the game’s final moments. “He trusted me and I wanted to come through.”

Other players stepped up, especially in the absence of freshman center Jessie Govan, who fouled out midway through the second half. Sophomore center Trey Mourning logged career highs with 12 minutes and six points scored, as he provided a much-needed first-half boost to a depleted Georgetown frontcourt. Sophomore forward Isaac Copeland notched a career-best 10 rebounds and seven assists with just one turnover.

While the Hoyas have struggled this year in close games, they were able to finally win one over an important conference rival, notably in front of a home crowd whose fans have not seen a home win since December. In light of the upcoming game against No. 10 Providence (17-4, 5-3 Big East), this win serves as a confidence boost for a Georgetown team that has struggled at home. While Providence’s roster boasts star junior guard Kris Dunn, Georgetown showed last night that it can handle an elite guard down the stretch.

Tipoff against Providence is set for 8 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

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