Hoosier Daddy: Big games from DSR, Bowen lift Hoyas past Indiana in OT
NEW YORK—“Oh man!”
That statement made by Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III as he entered the Madison Square Garden press room most aptly summarizes the probable feelings of many Hilltop faithful after watching the back-and-forth overtime affair between the Hoyas (8-3, 0-0 Big East) and Indiana (10-3, 0-0 Big Ten). The Blue and Gray had the last word, though, as they defeated the Hoosiers 91-87.
Senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way for the Hoyas with a game-high 29 points—24 of which came in the second half and overtime—while senior forward Aaron Bowen added a career-high 22 points off the bench.
Both sides played evenly matched for much of the first half until the 6:55 mark when Thompson was forced to sit senior center Joshua Smith after he picked up his third foul with Indiana up 25-22. With the Hoyas’ offense disoriented without Smith’s low-post presence, the Hoosiers went on a 15-8 run to give themselves a 40-30 halftime lead.
The Blue and Gray, however, came out with a different energy in the second half, fueled in part by Smith-Rivera.
The Big East Preseason Player of the Year opened the frame with three three-pointers within the first 4:06. A 15-3 run soon followed as Bowen’s layup with 8:45 left to play gave the Hoyas their first lead since the 13:20 mark of the first half.
The Hoyas appeared in control for the remainder of the game, as they led 76-71 with 1:01 remaining in regulation and looked to be on their way to a victory. Indiana junior guard Yogi Ferrell, however, had other ideas as he hit two three-pointers in the final minute, including one with 11 seconds remaining to tie the game at 77, to send the game into overtime.
The Hoyas took control in overtime, starting the period on a 7-0 run to put them in control for the rest of the period, as they cruised to a comfortable win after an unsettling finish in regulation.
Although his late-game heroics weren’t enough to get the Hoosiers the win, Ferrell lead the Hoosiers with 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Sophomore forward Troy Williams scored 23 points while freshman guard James Blackmon Jr. tallied 22 points, off of 6-of-12 shooting from three-point range.
One of the main differences for the Hoyas in their second half and overtime resurgence was Smith, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds. The commanding post presence that the 6-10, 350 pound senior provides opened up the floor for the Hoyas to execute their Princeton offense, as they scored numerous baskets off of backdoor cuts.
“He has a huge impact. People have to pay attention to Josh. He is a very good passer. He can’t be stopped down there except when he stops himself,” said Thompson after the game. “That then opens up easier looks with his cuts, with his drives, with his open shots, for everyone else. He’s a weapon that is effective.”
One of the chief beneficiaries of Smith’s return was Smith-Rivera. The Indianapolis native scored 24 points in the second half and overtime, after amassing only five in the first half.
“We threw it down to Josh and I think that changed how they were guarding us, how they were playing defense,” said Smith-Rivera. “I knew a lot of the times, if I was on the same side as him, we could get cuts from the opposing wing when they gave too much help.”
The win was especially sweet for Smith-Rivera, as it came against his home state school.
“I love opportunities like this. Of course this was personal, it’s back home.”
Along with Smith-Rivera, Bowen fueled the Hoyas’ second half resurgence. The fifth-year senior did a little bit of everything for the Blue and Gray. In addition to his career-high 22 points off of 10-of-13 shooting, he grabbed four rebounds, dished out two assists, and had two steals.
“I think that he was terrific today. He was outstanding,” said Thompson. “Aaron’s been unselfish this year.”
Thompson’s praise did not stop there.
“He is effective without the ball in his hands. His energy, his rebounds, his deflections, his activity on defense, his cuts…become infectious when he’s in there.”
The win against the Hoosiers concludes non-conference play for the Hoyas as they start Big East play this Tuesday night. They will travel to face Xavier at 10:00p.m. as part of the conference’s New Year’s Eve marathon.
But after overcoming the numerous challenges they faced in their non-conference finale, Smith and the Hoyas can’t wait to take on the Big East.
“We’re ready. We’re ready to play the whole Big East, the whole conference. We just got to get ready for a good Xavier team on Tuesday.”
Photo: Georgetown University