Cincinnati 72, No. 13 Georgetown 70
Yancy Gates and his 260 pounds rumbled up and down the floor for
46 minutes in another multiple-OT classic at the Big East
The Cincinnati senior was still such a force in the second
overtime Thursday that the Georgetown defense swarmed to him on the
Bearcats’ final possession, freeing Cashmere Wright to hit the
winning shot in a 72-70 quarterfinal victory over the 13th-ranked
Gates scored 23 points in his back-and-forth big man duel with
Henry Sims, including two baskets in the last 2 minutes of
regulation as fourth-seeded Cincinnati rallied from an 11-point
deficit with less than 8 1/2 minutes left.
”This is my last shot at it, so you don’t want to just play one
game and go home right away,” Gates said. ”I’ll never play in the
Garden in the Big East tournament again, so just trying to push and
fight and stay here as long as possible.”
Wright banked in a runner with 7.6 seconds to go.
”It was all set by Yancy,” he said. ”They were respecting him
so much – like when he ducked in, seemed like the whole team just
sucked into him, so the hole just opened up wide open, and I just
took it upon myself to try to win the game for my team.”
Georgetown’s Otto Porter sent the game to overtime when his
jumper bounced in with 3.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
Sims, who had 22 points and 15 rebounds, hit a layup at the
buzzer to force a second OT for the Hoyas (23-8). Well out of his
range, Sims missed a potential winning 3-pointer at the close of
the final period.
”I’d much rather have that shot at the end,” he said.
The Bearcats (23-9) face second-ranked Syracuse in Friday’s
Cincinnati won despite missing 19 of 21 3-point attempts. Dion
Dixon, who scored 22 points in a Cincy road win in the teams’ first
meeting, was 4 of 17 from the field, 0 of 6 from behind the arc and
5 of 9 from the foul line.
”Today was a great example of the character of our team,”
coach Mick Cronin said. ”So I couldn’t be more proud of these guys
right now, to go 2 for 21 from 3 against Georgetown and win the
game is unthinkable, to be honest with you.”
The teams tied with South Florida for fourth place during the
regular season, with the Bearcats winning the tiebreaker to earn a
double bye in the Big East tournament for the first time since
joining the conference for the 2005-06 season.
After a timeout with 1:56 left in regulation, Cincinnati got the
ball inside to Gates, who scored over Sims to pull Cincinnati
within a point. Then when Wright missed a drive with 38 seconds
remaining, Gates put it back for a 53-52 lead.
”His best basketball is way ahead of him still as he continues
to develop his body and become an adult,” Cronin said. ”He’s been
called upon to do a lot, too much, in rebuilding our program,
before he was ready to do it. It was really unfair. He’s been
through a lot.
”So for me, two things: I’m happy for him, but also as a coach,
it’s great when you know you’ve got a horse and you get him the
ball and he’s delivering.”
Dixon made the front end of a one-and-one with 25.9 seconds to
go but missed the second. The fifth-seeded Hoyas chose not to call
a timeout, and with the clock winding down, Sims found Porter open
for a short jumper.
The Bearcats tried a long pass to Gates, who couldn’t corral the
ball at the foul line. The 6-foot-9 senior chased it down and was
able to launch an off-balance 3-point attempt just before the
buzzer, but completely missed the rim.
Dixon again made just one of two free throws with 19.7 seconds
left in the first OT to put Cincinnati up 62-60.
After a timeout, the Hoyas couldn’t get their offense going as
the clock dwindled. The 6-10, 245-pound Sims found himself with the
ball at the top of the key, so the big guy put it on the floor.
With long stride after long stride, he barreled toward the basket
as the seconds ticked away, releasing a layup just before the
buzzer to send the game to a second OT.
”We both were caught up on getting tough baskets down the
stretch for our team,” Gates said, ”so it was just a good battle
between two big men, two seniors, too, trying to stay in New York
for a day longer.”
Notes: This was the first multiple-overtime game at the Big East
tournament since Syracuse beat UConn in six OTs in the 2009
quarterfinals. … The game had seven ties and 18 lead changes. …
The Orange beat the Bearcats 60-53 in Cincinnati on Jan. 23 in the
teams’ lone meeting this season.
Follow Rachel Cohen at https://twitter.com/RachelCohenAP .