NEW YORK -- Well after four boring blowouts to open up the 2015 edition of the BIG EAST Championships, the fans at Madison Square Garden were finally treated to a close affair. The problem with that is that if you are a Georgetown supporter, which you most likely are since you are over here at the Global Phenomenon, it involved your heroes being on the losing end to 10th seeded Creighton.
Isaac Copeland's fastbreak dunk to open the second half gave the Hoyas a 33-25 advantage and it looked like the rout was on for the second seeded Blue & Grey. Unfortunately that never happened and instead the Hoyas scored just 12 more points over the next 14 minutes and found themselves on the wrong end of a 51-45 score to a team that had just absolutely destroyed by 27 points six weeks ago in Omaha.
Just as another postseason loss was flashing before our eyes and with Syracuse's Pete Thamel trolling away on Twitter, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera took matters into his own hands by scoring 12 points in the last five minutes as the Hoyas used a decisive 15-4 run to give Coach John Thompson III and the rest of Hoyas a 60-55 quarterfinal victory on Thursday night.
Smith-Rivera led the Hoyas with 25 points while Joshua Smith added 10 points as the Hoyas improved to 21-9 and they will either painfully play Butler for a FOURTH time since November or they will get a chance to beat Xavier for the first time since last year at the Verizon Center.
"We needed it," JT3 said of DSR's late game heroics as the junior First Team all conference performer sat next to him at the post game press conference table
Senior Mikael Hopkins - who scored all seven of his points in the first half and then played just five minutes after halftime because of foul trouble - wasn't surprised that Smith-Rivera was able to heat up with the game on the line.
"It's a big moment and he's going to shine in a big moment," Hopkins said while seated at his locker in what looked like the Knicks locker room.
"That's what he lives for and that's why we got him on this team. Down the stretch we are going to need him to continue to hit big shots and I'm happy he's on my team."
Yes, we're all happy about.
Ok so before Georgetown attempts to win consecutive post season games of any kind since the 2010 BIG EAST Championships, let's talk about some stuff seen from MSG.
Late poise: So after Austin Chatman's layup gave the Bluejays their biggest lead of six at 51-45 with 6:01 remaining, what was the feeling on the court by the players? Afterwards Jabril Trawick - who had 5 points and three of the Hoyas 11 steals - talked about the Hoyas mindset down the stretch.
"It's easy to get frustrated in a moment like that, especially when they get the lead but we stayed composed," Trawick said as he sat next to fellow senior Aaron Bowen.
"We just stayed together and we were able to come away with some stops and that's what it came down, just getting stops at the end."
Georgetown which allowed Creighton to shoot 52 percent in the second half, held the Bluejays to just two field goals in the last six minutes.
Now for all of that poise the Hoyas showed, you could see the sense of relief from the sideline after Smith's layup put Georgetown back up for good at 54-53 with 2:06 left. All of the players and coaches ran on the court as Creighton's Doug McDermott called a 30 second timeout. I don't think I've ever seen Bradley Hayes so animated.
Full functioning zone: Unable to guard Creighton's James Milliken, the Hoyas switched to a zone later in the game and it worked. Milliken made all four of his shots in the first half including three 3-pointers for 11 points. He was just 2 of 5 in the second half and none in the last 16 minutes
Said Trawick: "Early we were falling asleep. We just had to pay more attention to detail and not fall asleep to those pin downs on the weak side."
"They were getting too many easy looks against our man-to-man, and they were putting us in difficult situations," JT3 said about the late switch.
Together again: We don't often see a lot of Copeland and Paul White together but we did tonight, at least late. Copeland's minutes were down from what they have been recently but White saw his most action since Jan 10 against Providence. Down the stretch JT3 went with a lot of DSR, Peak, White, Copeland, and Smith. That's the kind of length that can bother teams and it bothered Creighton.
Creighton's Rick Kreklow - who was just 2 of 9 from the field - talked about his team's struggles against the zone.
"They're a big team," Kreklow said. They've got a lot of length and when they're moving well in that zone there's really not a lot of gaps to penetrate."
On Fire: DSR is 16 of 31 from deep in the last four games he's played for the Hoyas. That's good. By going 4 of 7 tonight against Creighton DSR surpassed his 3-point total from last season and tied Jason Clark's output from the 2010 with 67 made bombs - good enough for sixth all-time in a campaign. He'll break that tie on Friday night with Jonathan Wallace in his sights. Of course none of his shots were bigger than the last one he made with 4:47 remaining that pulled the Hoyas back to within two points at 51-49. He was almost in Rich Chvotkin's lap when he drilled it. It was pretty deep.
Ugly wins Count: Georgetown shot just 37.8 percent from the field but advanced to the BIG EAST semis for the second time in three seasons. The Hoyas are now 2-4 in conference games this season when shooting less than 40 percent from the field.