Georgetown’s recent struggles in the NCAA tournament are well documented, but never during that time have the Hoyas suffered through the sort of late-game collapse that will come to define their 72-70 double-overtime loss to Cincinnati in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament Thursday.
In the most exciting game of Championship Week so far, Georgetown coughed up an 11-point lead over the final 9 minutes 11 seconds of regulation, and then needed a driving layup by senior Henry Sims just before the buzzer sounded just to force a second overtime. The damage had been done, though, and Cincinnati would not let up.
A tough fadeaway by Sims in double overtime tied the score at 70 with 29 seconds left, but Cincinnati’s Cashmere Wright hit a clutch jumper with 7.6 seconds remaining to put the Bearcats up for good. Sims missed a three-pointer at the buzzer to seal Georgetown’s fate.
Sims finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds; Yancy Gates led Cincinnati with 23 points and eight rebounds.
Georgetown committed 14 turnovers, and seven of them came in the final 9 minutes 11 seconds of regulation or the two overtime periods.
Cincinnati advanced to the Big East semifinals, where it will face top-seeded Syracuse. Georgetown also lost to Cincinnati in the teams’ lone regular season meeting in January, and will can now just wait to see how this loss affects its seeding in next week’s NCAA tournament. Eric Prisbell, The Post’s resident bracketologist, expects the Hoyas to be a No. 3 or No. 4 seed, perhaps with a first-round game in Nashville.
The Hoyas needed last-second heroics just to make it out of regulation after Gates’s tip in gave the Bearcats a 53-52 lead with just 37 seconds remaining. But once Duan Dixon only made one of two free throws after a Sims turnover, Georgetown freshman Otto Porter’s short jumper from just outside the paint rolled around the rim and through the hoop to tie the score at 54 with 3.6 seconds remaining. Gates missed a wild three-pointer from near Cincinnati’s bench as the clock expired to force overtime.
Before Porter’s late basket, the Hoyas had just one field goal over the previous 10 minutes 35 seconds.
Georgetown led by 11 after two free throws by senior Jason Clark with 9:11 remaining in the game, but then Wright brought the Bearcats back into the game, assisting or scoring on four straight Bearcats baskets.
When Wright fed Gates for an alley-oop dunk – after the Hoyas’ third turnover in a three-minute span – Cincinnati had embarked on a 9-1 run and suddenly trailed by just three points with 5:28 to go in regulation.
That, as it turned out, was the only the beginning of Georgetown’s troubles.