Down 75-59 with 4:25 left in the second half, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (14-15, 7-9 Big East) had a very low chance of getting a win on Senior Day against Butler (19-9, 8-8 Big East). Although the Hoyas did lose 90-87 in the end, they put together a 21-5 run over the last stretch of regulation to force overtime that culminated in what originally looked to be a lost possession.
The team drew up a play that was quickly sniffed out by the Butler defense, leading to several passes around the perimeter in vain, and ending with a contested three-pointer from sophomore forward Isaac Copeland: airball.
But as cheers emanated from the Georgetown bench, everyone in Verizon Center quickly realized that the forward had drawn a shooting foul. With the score at 80-77 and just three seconds left, Copeland had to make all three free throws to force overtime.
The Hoyas were in a similar situation a couple weeks prior, when Copeland had a chance to force overtime in Providence (20-9, 8-8 Big East) against the Friars, down 73-70. He clanked the first one and the Friars eventually emerged victorious, 75-72.
Copeland made up for his missed free throw against the Friars by draining all three against the Bulldogs, sending the game into overtime. At the extra period’s start, senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera fouled out. Smith-Rivera poured in a team-high 26 points on the day and buoyed the Georgetown offense through much of the game.
“I just told the guys to continue to play. We’ve been in situations like that before. Some we’ve overcome, today we didn’t,” Smith-Rivera said. “It was very difficult [fouling out], especially since we didn’t win. It’s tough, especially knowing I could have done something being out there.”
Even though Smith-Rivera fouled out, the team still managed to attack offensively without him.
“We wanted to get movement and penetration. We got some drives by [Isaac Copeland] in there. We just wanted to get movement, we wanted to attack the rim,” Head Coach John Thompson III said of the team’s offensive strategy in overtime.
However, Butler’s offense was a step faster in overtime, just as its defense was superior in regulation.
Despite Butler shooting just 64 percent from the free-throw line and 43 percent from the field on the day, they had just eight turnovers while forcing a season-high 23 for Georgetown.
Junior guard Kellen Dunham led the way for the Bulldogs with 29 points, hitting four threes and leading a high-paced Butler offense. However, Dunham, along with the rest of the Butler players, missed crucial free throws down the stretch — misses that helped ignite the Georgetown comeback.
“I was really, really pleased with our guys’ response in overtime, when we could have certainly responded differently,” Head Coach Chris Holtmann said about the Bulldogs’ resilience. “I told them in the locker room, don’t let anyone, anyone, say anything about this win. Because that was a gutsy win. That was a gutsy win.”
A gutsy win for the Bulldogs has all but spelled the end of the Hoyas’ remaining postseason hopes. Georgetown needs to finish with a winning record to at least be eligible for a National Invitation Tournament bid. Outside of the Big East tournament, that means the Hoyas will have to win their final two games, both on the road.
Georgetown’s first chance comes against Marquette (18-11, 7-9 Big East) on Tuesday, followed by a rivalry game against No. 3 Villanova (25-4, 14-2 Big East) on Saturday.
Tipoff on Tuesday is set for 9 p.m., and the game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.