John F. Silver
Sometimes basketball games take on a life of themselves. After a terrible first half, a 22-19 UConn lead, the stars came out in full force in the second half.
“I thought I had seen it all, but I guess I haven’t,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “Just a great effort from both teams. Georgetown stayed with what they were running….I think we have everybody in the building a great game in the second half and those two overtimes.”
Wednesday’s game had everything. UConn’s DeAndre Daniels had a coming out party with 25 points and 10 rebounds and largely outplayed Georgetown’s Otto Porter. Porter, who had an awful first half with one point and one shot, added 21 points including the game-winner in double overtime as he cemented his status as the leagues top player.
Georgetown showed why its a national title contender as it shot 8 of 9 on 3-pointers to open the second half to lead by as many as 12 points on the Huskies. There was Shabazz Napier coming back from an injured left ankle, switching sneakers and scoring 16 points in the second half and overtime. There was Omar Calhoun helping rally the Huskies from a five-point deficit in the final 11 seconds hitting a pull-up 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left to force overtime.
It had everything a classic Big East game should.
“That was a hell of a basketball game right there,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “The guys in the locker room, they could have cashed it in…..(UConn) is a terrific team. That’s not a good win, but a great win.”
The Huskies couldn’t just yet come to grips with the loss. So much effort was expended that there wasn’t enough energy for misery.
“It was a very emotional game,” Boatright said. “These losses are the toughest. We fought so hard to win the game. You give it your all and you just fall short. These are the toughest pills to swallow.”
The final 2:03 of the second overtime is going to loom large. Up 78-71, the Huskies had control, only to watch it disappear in a flash.
Each possession had to go a certain way and every domino had to fall correctly to get Georgetown back in the game.
Here’s the view on the final two minutes.
The first mistake the Huskies made was in allowing 3-point shots. The 3-pointer is the great equalizer and Porter got away from the pesky Daniels on a switch. Niels Giffey was defending Porter and gave him too much space for a 3-pointer to cut UConn’s lead to 78-74.
Mistake No. 1.
Napier then missed a 3-pointer, but the ball went out of bounds and stayed the Huskies’. The shot clock was at 4 seconds and Daniels got the ball in the corner. Instead of shooting, he passed it to Omar Calhoun who threw up a wild drive that turned into a shot clock violation.
Mistake No. 2.
The collapse kept unfolding on the next possession when D’Vaun Smith-Rivera somehow got open for a 3-pointer with 49 seconds left. Just like that it was 78-77.
That was the third mistake.
“We just didn’t take away the three when we were up seven,” Ollie said.
Ollie called a timeout and tried to set up a play. Napier had the ball and the Huskies wanted to get a basket and with the game clock under 20 seconds he began to make a move. Napier’s drive to the basket was unsuccessful and he fumbled it away, UConn’s second straight turnover.
Mistake No. 4.
Georgetown’s Thompson didn’t call a timeout with 15 seconds to go, rather he instructed his team in the previous timeout to get the ball up the floor after a stop. If things bogged down, the timeout was coming from the sideline. Georgetown got the ball to Porter who dribbled up the left sideline. He slashed to the basket, in transition, and beat three retreating UConn players to the basket to give Georgetown a 79-78 lead with eight seconds left.
“He makes wining plays,” Thompson said. ” I said let’s get a stop and get Otto and go. If I didn’t like what I saw, I was going to call timeout. We wanted to have an advantage in transition. We got ball to the right person and got to the win.”
Mistake No. 5– transition defense.
“We just didn’t cut Porter off,” Ollie said. “We let him get all the way to the lane.”
With few seconds remaining the ball was inbounded to Boatright. He dribbled up the floor, perhaps taking a little too long, but fumbled the ball right over the timeline. Boatright than ran into Smith, who stopped any movement towards the basket. It was two seconds left and Boatright knew he was in trouble. He went to the corner and lofted a low percentage 3-pointer that actually almost kissed off the backboard and went in.
“It actually felt good coming off my hands, but it fell short,” Boatright said.
It wasn’t what Ollie wanted.
Mistake No. 6.
“We weren’t looking for that shot, but Otto Porter got to the rim with seven seconds on the clock…Ryan got the ball,” Ollie said. “You try and push it and get to the rim. See if we can get an offensive rebound, see if we can kick-out. They played good defense, they bottled him up and he just had to make a play.”
The Huskies now are 19-8, 9-6 in conference and out of the Big East hunt. It was a crushing loss. A building that was alive and ready to rock filed out in silence.
“Adversity is the intersection between character and opportunity,” Ollie said. “This team has character and had a great opportunity.”
* Daniels’ 25 points and 10 rebounds was the first double-double for UConn this year. Daniels added three blocks in a career-high 49 minutes. It was Daniels best game of his career as he out-played Porter for much of the time.
* The Huskies played most of the second half and overtime with a small lineup with Giffey in place of the foul-plagued Tyler Olander. Olander had four points and four fouls early in the second half. He never returned to the game after his fourth foul. He played only 11 minutes. Phil Nolan played 14 minutes including 12 in the first half and had four points and a pair of rebounds.
* This was the first time that Georgetown has ever beaten UConn at Gampel Pavilion. They are now 1-3 in Storrs with most of these matchups at the XL Center.
*Napier was in a walking boot after the game as precautionary for his ankle. Napier said he is going to rest up and have treatment before the Huskies head on the road to play at Cincinnati.