- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2006

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Three days after notching a program-building aesthetic masterpiece against then-No. 1 Duke, Georgetown simply survived in South Bend.

Overcoming a predictable case of dead legs and a stunning mental lapse by senior Brandon Bowman, No. 21 Georgetown edged Notre Dame 85-82 in double overtime last night at Joyce Convocation Center.

“I hate to use a boxing analogy, but it was like a heavyweight fight,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said after collecting the 100th victory of his career. “To come away with a win on the road in double overtime in a building where we haven’t won in a long time is extremely important.”

The Hoyas (13-4, 4-2 Big East), tied for fifth in the league standings, now return home for a Saturday afternoon tussle at MCI Center with first-year Big East member Cincinnati (14-5, 3-2).

To the Hoyas’ credit, there was no emotional letdown last night following Saturday’s signature thriller against Duke. But after building a 29-14 lead midway through the first half against the struggling Irish (10-7, 1-5), Georgetown began to show signs of physical fatigue.

Feeling the effects of a road trip to the Midwest closely on the heels of Saturday’s 40-minute marathon, the Hoyas began losing track of Notre Dame gunners Chris Quinn (26 points, 10 assists) and Colin Falls (18 points). And the Irish, a team beset more by bad luck than poor performances, began taking advantage of a Georgetown defense that suddenly was a step slow.

Driven by the sniping of Quinn and Falls and an flood of offensive rebounds (21 for the game), the Irish closed to within eight points at the half and then tied the game at 50-50 with 11:28 remaining in regulation. At that point, Thompson went small, benching 7-foot-2 sophomore center Roy Hibbert (18 points, 13 rebounds) in an effort to slow Notre Dame’s perimeter-based offense.

The move paid dividends, and Georgetown seemingly reclaimed control of the game when Bowman dropped in a follow-up layup to put the Hoyas ahead 63-56 with 3:13 remaining. Down the stretch, Georgetown kept the Irish at bay, always down by more than a possession, until the unthinkable happened with 3.2 seconds remaining and the Hoyas leading 69-65.

The disgruntled crowd already had shrugged into its coats and scarves as the Irish were inbounding under their own basket, simple hoops logic telling anyone that even with a 3-pointer, the Irish still would be down one with only a successful Georgetown inbounds pass standing between the Hoyas and victory.

Before the Irish inbounded the ball, Georgetown guards Jonathan Wallace and D.J. Owens clearly could be heard screaming along the baseline, “No foul, no foul.”

Apparently, Bowman wasn’t listening.

Committing a costly mental snafu, Bowman fouled Falls as the latter collected the inbounds pass and rose up for a desperate last-second heave from behind the arc. Perhaps on principle, the basketball gods answered Falls’ prayer, and the crowd erupted as his heave swished home with the whistle still resounding in the gym. The 6-foot-5 Notre Dame swingman then stepped to the line and calmly completed the unlikely four-point play to tie the game at 69-69 with 1.8 seconds remaining.

“It just drains you when that shot goes in, regardless of how it happened or why it happened. It just zaps you,” Thompson said. “But we’re a pretty resilient group. To hold on, not to cave in when the crowd suddenly gets back into it, and they’re on cloud nine because everything’s going right, was pretty impressive.”

The Hoyas basically controlled both overtime periods, largely because Hibbert and fellow sophomore Jeff Green (12 points, seven rebounds, six assists) had their way in the paint with Notre Dame senior center Torin Francis (nine points, 12 rebounds) sitting on the Irish bench after fouling out near the end of regulation.

The Hoyas held for the last shot in the first overtime and were thwarted when Wallace had his shot rejected by Rob Kurz. But the offensive trio of Green, Hibbert and Owens proved too potent for the Irish to withstand in the second extra period.

Green and Owens drilled 3-pointers to put the Hoyas up 83-79, and then Quinn and Hibbert exchanged layups to leave the Hoyas leading 85-81 with just 1:07 remaining. After Kurz made the second of two free throws, Georgetown survived one final thrust from the Irish over the game’s final seconds. Both Kurz and Kyle McAlarney missed open 3-pointers, with the Hoyas denying the ball to Quinn and Falls.

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