Comeback in 2OT Gives GU First Storrs Win
Porter Jr. Delivers Game-Winner With Nine Seconds to Play
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 00:03
A season-high national ranking has been the kiss of death for many high-profile teams this year.
Leave it to Otto Porter Jr. and the Hoyas to break the trend in dramatic fashion.
The sophomore forward scored 22 points, including the game-winning basket with under 10 seconds to go, and No. 7 Georgetown (22-4, 12-3 Big East) withstood a furious rally to pull out a 79-78, double-overtime win at Connecticut (19-8, 9-6 Big East) Wednesday night.
“That was a hell of a basketball game right there,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III told the Associated Press.
Junior guard Markel Starks added 19 points, and freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 14 in another big night that featured clutch defensive plays and a three-pointer that brought the Hoyas within a point, setting the stage for Porter Jr.’s game-winning layup.
The Hoyas had squandered a 12-point lead to the Huskies, who are playing without hopes of a Big East or NCAA tournament appearance due to NCAA sanctions. Connecticut junior Shabazz Napier, one of the conference’s premier guards, suddenly came alive after a scoreless first half and energized his team. He hit freshman backcourt mate Omar Calhoun for an open three-pointer to stop UConn’s bleeding, then made a layup of his own to spark the comeback.
Three minutes of missed jumpers, fouls and turnovers from the visitors followed, and the Huskies clawed at the deficit until it stood at only five points with under 20 seconds to play. Calhoun put back a Napier miss for two, and Starks was fouled with nine seconds left.
The veteran point guard missed the front end of a one-and-one that would have iced the game for Georgetown, and the Huskies pushed the ball up the court to Calhoun on the left wing. The freshman then calmly knocked down a three-pointer to tie the game at 62 with three ticks to play.
Georgetown forward Nate Lubick nearly blew the game with an uncharacteristic turnover on the ensuing inbounds play, but, fortunately for Lubick, Connecticut’s Niels Giffey missed a hurried three-pointer as time expired.
Napier continued his trend of overtime heroics with an assist to a cutting Ryan Boatright and a clutch three-pointer of his own to give the Huskies a two-point lead in the first OT, while forward DeAndre Daniels contributed several big rebounds and free throws of his own. But Starks and Porter Jr. countered the rally at each turn, eventually forcing another extra period.
A 9-2 Connecticut run in the first three minutes of the second overtime had things looking grim for Thompson III’s squad. UConn’s arsenal of sharpshooters caught fire all at once, Georgetown freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera appeared to injure his shooting arm diving after a loose ball and the Hoyas found themselves staring down a seven-point deficit on the road with little time to make it up.
That’s where this story diverts from the familiar late-season Georgetown narrative.
Porter Jr. dialed in a strike from several feet beyond the three-point line. The Georgetown backcourt teamed up to force a turnover. Smith-Rivera re-entered the game and immediately nailed a corner trey, trimming the deficit to one.
After a UConn timeout, Smith-Rivera picked Napier’s pocket and pushed the ball up the court to Porter Jr. The Georgetown star, who is quickly making a name for himself as one of the country’s most clutch players, glided coolly through the lane for a go-ahead layup with nine seconds left. A group defensive effort forced Boatright into an impossible three-point attempt as time expired, and the Hoyas began celebrating as the ball fell harmlessly to the court.
“The last shot wasn’t what we were looking for,” UConn Head Coach Kevin Ollie told the AP. “Ryan was trying to rush to get the ball to the rim, but Porter got there and they cut him off and got him in the corner.”
The double-overtime drama overshadowed what was already an entertaining second half. After the sloppy opening frame, both the Huskies and Hoyas had caught fire from deep, with the latter squad hitting eight of its first nine three-point attempts in the half. But it was UConn that hit its stride at the right time, storming back from a double-digit deficit to force the overtimes.
Daniels led the Huskies with 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Napier chipped in 16 and six assists.
The win was Georgetown’s 10th straight — tightening the Hoyas’ grip on first place in the conference — and its first ever in Storrs, Conn.
It even provoked an uncharacteristically open display of pride from the Blue and Gray’s perpetually stoic head coach.
“That’s not a good win. It’s a great win,” Thompson III told the AP.