STORRS, Conn. — It was more a test of resolve than a game — a grueling test, composed of hapless shooting droughts, clutch three-pointers and wild swings of momentum.
After being held to a single point in the first half, Otto Porter Jr. hit the layup that finally brought an end to No. 7 Georgetown’s slugfest against Connecticut with 9.5 seconds remaining in double overtime.
The Hoyas, whose winning streak now stands at 10, were well positioned to win the game in regulation, leading by 12, 60-48, with 4 minutes 36 seconds remaining. But down the stretch, junior Markel Starks (19 points) missed a free throw. And Connecticut’s Omar Calhoun drilled a three-pointer with two seconds remaining to knot the score at 62 and force overtime.
After playing to a 69-69 tie in the first overtime, Georgetown trailed 78-71, with 2:03 remaining in the second overtime. But Porter (22 points) and freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (14 points) hit back-to-back three-pointers to close the deficit to one point.
And off a final steal by Smith-Rivera as the shrieking home-court crowd at Gampel Pavilion pleaded for the Huskies’ star, Shabazz Napier, to hit a game-winner, Porter drove to the basket, his path nicely cleared with help from teammate Mikael Hopkins, who lured defenders away.
“I thought I had seen it all, but I guess I haven’t,” said Connecticut Coach Kevin Ollie, who took over for Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun in September.
It was Georgetown’s first victory in four attempts at Gampel Pavilion. Afterward, Coach John Thompson III recalled the Hoyas’ last futile outing, which came during his first season on the Hilltop. His Hoyas played so poorly and with so little fight, he recalled, that he yanked all of his starters and replaced with them reserves with more than 10 minutes remaining.
Wednesday night’s battle was fought by players of far tougher stuff, and Thompson joined Ollie in saluting both squads.
“This was a terrific basketball game,” Thompson said. “They could have packed it in, and they didn’t. They fought back from a double-digit deficit with three of four minutes left. We could have been totally dejected after Markel misses a foul shot, and they bang a three. It goes into overtime.
“Both teams had the opportunity to pack it in, and they didn’t. They showed a terrific will to win, as did we.”
Connecticut’s Deandre Daniels led all players with 25 points while doing an impressive job defending the 6-8 Porter, who was coming off a 33-point performance in Georgetown’s upset of Syracuse last Saturday.
Georgetown had gotten 33 points from Smith-Rivera the previous game. But in a poor-shooting half by both teams, he and Porter managed just one point apiece in the first 20 minutes.
The Hoyas got off to a quick start, but Connecticut (19-8, 9-6) capitalized on three Hoyas turnovers to storm back for an 11-9 lead.
Nate Lubick, who ended up fouling out in the second overtime, reclaimed the lead for Georgetown with a hook with 12:03 remaining in the first half. It was the last field goal the Hoyas scored until just 56 seconds remained in regulation—a more than 11:00 drought in which Georgetown’s only points came on the free-throw line.
Connecticut took a 22-19 lead to the break.
Starks hit a pair of three-pointers in the second half to put Georgetown ahead, 27-24.
Porter made two of his three free throw attempts after being fouled beyond the arc with 16:07 to play, and it seemed to flip a switch. He followed with a three pointer. And Georgetown’s bench shot to its feet when Smith-Rivera finally hit from long range, too.
Napier ignited the crowd with a three-pointer of his own, setting off an eruption of long-range heroics at both ends. Porter hit. Then Napier. Then Starks, who put the Hoyas ahead, 50-39.
After making just one three-pointer in the first half, Georgetown hit eight of its first nine long-range attempts in the second half.