Georgetown needed to make a statement by winning Saturday's game vs. Indiana. And facing a sea of red, the Hoyas made their way through and fought back from down 10 at the half to win in overtime against the Hoosiers. This game also featured the loudest student section I have been a part of in my year and a half of Hoyas basketball.
Thanks to an early train, I got to Madison Square Garden early enough to secure a front row seat. This allowed me to be right in the line of a camera, which spent considerable time on our part of the student section as I serenaded the camera with a rendition of whichever song happened to be playing. A Georgetown representative came up to me and the other people up front and told us to chant "De-fense" a lot so that all of, in his words, the "Park Avenue Hoyas" up front would hear us and join in.
For the first twenty minutes, though, we saw very little defense from the Hoyas, as the Hoosiers offensive attack charged forward in high gear. Mikael Hopkins was an anomalous bright spot, registering 3 blocks in the first half (one of them was technically a foul) that each led to about 20 students doing the Mutombo finger wag. But Indiana made their shots whether Georgetown tried to defend them or not. The crowd was fairly enthusiastic at first, but was getting increasingly angry with the Hoyas' anemic offense and porous defense. Needless to say, they let the referees hear it.
It seemed like the script was writing itself. Just like in every other Hoyas loss, the team would survive in a game they should have been blown out in, then fight back just to lose the game in the last five minutes. The same problems as usual cropped up. Georgetown couldn't defend the three, was getting into foul trouble, and couldn't convert even the highest of high-percentage shots. Indiana was just making everything.
But the Hoyas tore up the script when they came out for the second half. Fairly early in the second half, the Hoyas went on a 7-0 run, and when Aaron Bowen connected from downtown for 3 of his 22 points to cut Indiana's lead to 51-48, the Hoya faithful went nuts. By the time Bowen put the Hoyas ahead for the first time in the second half with a layup, the crowd became so loud that the MSG security guard standing by our section put in his earplugs. Right in front of me on the Hoyas bench, Tyler Adams was jumping up and down, waving his hands up to get the crowd to make the Garden even louder.
The student section responded emphatically. As regulation wound down, the noise made it increasingly like a Georgetown home game (correction: a McDonough home game.) A group of Hoyas fans higher up (who I believe were the Stonewalls) helped us start a back-and-forth Hoya Saxa chant. If at any point the quiet mass of Indiana fans tried to start one of their "I-U" chants, it got silenced by a loud "Let's Go Hoyas" chant. Indiana's Troy Williams heard chants of "Failed your drug test!" and Hanner Mosquera-Perea heard "D-U-I! D-U-I!" as they shot free throws. The students even brought out the "Chick-Fil-A" chant late in the second half after one Indiana player missed their first free throw.
Things looked good after Jabril Trawick made what looked like a game-sealing jumper with just over a minute in regulation, but Indiana forced their way back via two threes from Yogi "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" Ferrell. The student section let out a collective sigh of disappointment. It was on to overtime.
The OT saw the Hoyas continue the run that helped them back into this game, and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera continued his coming out party by scoring 7 of his 29 in OT, including two late free throws and a key jumper that put the Hoosiers away. I was still scared the Hoosiers would come back, especially after I turned to Indiana's bench and saw Tom Crean in his wide stance, clapping right at me. This will probably be part of my nightmares for a long time. But the Hoyas were able to survive, and made one final nationally-televised non-conference statement. The chants of "Let's Go Hoyas" are still echoing in my head hours after the final buzzer. Let's hope they continue to reverberate into Big East play.