This year’s Georgetown men’s basketball team opened their home schedule with an overtime loss. So it was only appropriate that they would close it in similar fashion, as the Hoyas (14-15, 7-9 Big East) fell in overtime to Butler (19-9, 8-8 Big East), 90-87, in front of 10,412 fans at Verizon Center Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore forward Isaac Copeland’s three free throws with three seconds left in regulation capped an 18-3 run by the Hoyas over the last 3:20 of the second half to send the game into overtime, before foul trouble, turnovers, and late game execution caught up with the Blue and Gray. The loss drops the Hoyas into a tie for seventh-place in the Big East standings.
“We don’t quit. At this point, to say we’ll take that we always have fight, that’s what we do,” said Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III. “We’re not going to quit. We never quit. We never will quit. The guys have been there and understand that until the clock gets to :00, there’s a chance.”
In his final home game, senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 26 points, off 8-of-18 shooting, to lead the way for the Hoyas, who have dropped seven of their last eight games including four in a row, before fouling out in overtime. Copeland added 16 points, and sophomore guard L.J. Peak had 14 before fouling out as well.
Georgetown shot 49 percent overall from the field, but committed a season-high 23 turnovers, which Butler converted into 34 points. Although the Butler defense was solid for most of the game, Smith-Rivera thought the errors were self-inflicted.
“A lot of the turnovers weren’t from them causing problems,” said Smith-Rivera. “It was misdirections or miscommunications with each other.”
Senior guard Kellen Dunham paced the Bulldogs, who completed the regular season sweep of the Hoyas, with a game-high 29 points, off 9-of-18 shooting. Senior forward Roosevelt Jones and sophomore forward Kelan Martin each added 18 points as well.
Without Smith-Rivera, Peak, sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson, and freshman guard Kaleb Johnson for much of overtime due to disqualifications from foul trouble, the Hoyas struggled to get a flow on offense as they only converted two of their eight field goal attempts. Martin, on the other hand, scored six of Butler’s 10 points in the extra period to seal the victory.
“We wanted to get movement and penetration,” said Thompson of the overtime gameplan. “We got some drives by Isaac in there. We just wanted to get movement, we wanted to attack the rim.”
For the Hoyas to get to that point was outright miraculous, mirroring similar comeback efforts this season against Creighton and Providence. A 13-0 run by the Hoyas over a span of 4:47 early in the second half gave the Hoyas a 54-52 lead with 10:52 left in regulation, their first lead since they were up 6-5 in the opening minutes. The Bulldogs answered with a 16-0 run for their largest lead of the game, 73-57, with 5:52 left to play to seemingly put the game out of reach. But late turnovers, caused by Georgetown’s defensive pressure, and 10 missed foul shots in the second half allowed the Hoyas back in it.
“It created opportunities for us that we weren’t getting,” said Thompson of Butler’s late struggles.
Dunham and Jones asserted themselves early on in the contest. The two combined to score Butler’s first 16 points, with Dunham scoring all of the first 12, to give the Bulldogs an early 16-8 lead. A 13-2 run by Butler followed the Hoyas’ responding 8-2 run gave the Bulldogs a 31-20 lead, their largest of the half, after a pair of free throws from Jones at the 6:30 mark. Peak’s three-pointer with 3:01 remaining in the first half punctuated a 13-4 Georgetown run to close the deficit to two points, 35-33, before the Bulldogs closed the half on an 11-4 run to take a 46-37 halftime lead after a buzzer-beating floater by Jones.
Saturday was an emotional day for Smith-Rivera, who was honored alongside senior center Bradley Hayes and senior guard Riyan Williams in Senior Day festivities before the game. Smith-Rivera will graduate Georgetown as the fifth-highest scorer in the history of the program. His presence will be missed by Thompson and his teammates next year.
“He’s been special in his time here, and his time here is not up yet,” said Thompson. “I’ve said it a couple of people, as much as I can remember of any player I’ve coached, I’ve seen such tremendous growth and maturation as a person, as a man during his four years here. As a player, his numbers, his commitment, speaks for itself.”
The Hoyas return to action this Tuesday night, when they go on the road to face Marquette (18-10, 8-9 Big East) for a 9:00 p.m. tip. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1. The Blue and Gray will look to complete the season sweep of the Golden Eagles, who they defeated 80-70 on Jan. 2 at Verizon Center.
Big East seeding considerations will also be on the line as both teams are tied for seventh-place in the current standings. Finishing in sixth-place or better earns the teams a first round bye in the upcoming Big East Tournament.