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

tournament.

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

Hoyas.

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

semifinals.

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 .