NEW YORK – During a Big East tournament where it seemed as though he could do no wrong, Georgetown’s Henry Sims finally came across a shot that wasn’t in his repertoire when his last second three-pointer bounced off the back rim in the Hoyas 72-70 double overtime loss to Cincinnati.
In a season in which Sims exceeded expectations from the opening jump-ball, the 6-foot-10 center recorded his second double-double in as many days with 22 points a career-high 15 rebounds but the Hoyas were eliminated in the quarterfinals on Thusday afternoon before a sellout crowd of 22,057 at Madison Square Garden.
Sims, who battled Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates (23 points, eight rebounds) in the post all afternoon, hadn’t attempted a three-pointer all season long. In fact the Baltimore native entered the game just 2-of-16 from that distance for his career – his last make coming on December 23, 2008 during his freshman season.
“It would have been nice to make that last one, obviousy, but the first lay-up to put it into double overtime I think obviously felt good,” Sims said about his emotions after regulation.
“But I’d much rather have that shot at the end.”
Sims finished the game shooting 11-of-20 from a variety of spots on the court to end his two game tournament run as a senior with 42 points after having scored just five points in his previous three seasons (five games).
Cashmere Wright’s layup with 7.6 seconds remaining in the second overtime would prove to the be the final, in a series, of last second shots in a game that saw 18 lead changes and seven ties.
It was Georgetown’s fourth straight loss to Cincinnati (23-9) which now moves on to play top-seeded Syracuse in its first ever Big East semifinal appearance on Friday night.
With Georgetown trailing 62-60 Sims received the ball at the top of the arc from Hollis Thompson (ten points, eight rebounds) and drove down the right side of the lane before hitting a lay-up as time expired in overtime.
The Hoyas found themselves in a comfortable position at the half with a 30-24 lead by more importantly it looked as though they had fixed what ailed them in their 68-64 loss to Cincinnati earlier in the season – turnovers and fast break points.
At the half Georgetown had commiteed just two turnovers and given up zero fast break points, but both of those statistics would greatly change in the second half and beyond.
After building an eleven point second half lead at 49-38 with 9:11 after Jason Clark’s two free throws, Georgetown made just one of its final five shots until Otto Porter’s baseline jumper with with three seconds left knotted the score at 54 and forced overtime after a desperation heave by Gates was well off the mark.
“My team just has confidence in me and I stepped up to hit the shot,” Porter said about forcing overtime.
Porter finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in just his second Big East tournament game.
And it wasn’t just missed field goals that burned the Hoyas, it was the turnovers (five in that final 9:11), missed free throws (1-of-4), and Gates who scored ten straight at one point in the second half.
Markel Starks especially hurt the Hoyas by missing the front end of two one-and-one opportunities.
“It was a big free throw, probably would have sealed the game,” Starks said about his free throw miss with the Hoyas up 52-49 with 2:08 remaining.
“I kind of, on this one, I kinda put it a little a bit on my shoulders because we had the game right there in our hands and I just feel like I let us down.”
There was a clear momentum swing even earlier in the second half after Hollis Thompson left his layup attempt short on a nice backdoor cut pass from Sims. Georgetown held a 36-27 edge but the Bearcats came storming back with an 8-0 run that included a flagrant foul on Otto Porter.
After going to the monitors, the officials determined that Porter’s elbow swing on Sean Kilpatrick was worthy of a Flagrant 1 foul which resulted in two free throws as well as possession of the ball.
Georgetown’s lead was trimmed to just two at 40-38 until Starks (nine points) provided a spark off the bench.
The sophomore guard who recently lost his starting spot snapped out of a shooting slump that had him just one for his last ten from three-point range by nailing his only three- point attempt of the game.
The Hoyas reeled off nine straight points to take their first double-figures lead at 49-38 before it all would go wrong once again.
For the game Georgetown yielded 17 points off of 14 turnovers. The Hoyas shot a season low 53 percent (8-of-15) from the line.
“We had some very untimely turnovers at key junctures,” Coach John Thompson III said about the 12 turnovers during the second half and both overtimes.
Up Next: Georgetown will now have to wait until Selection Sunday to find out its next opponent and destination in the NCAA tournament.
Most bracket experts have the Hoyas from as high as a three seed to as low as a five seed in mock brackets.