In one of the best conference tournament games anywhere so far this season, the Cincinnati Bearcats came from behind, forced overtime, then endured two extra periods to defeat the Georgetown Hoyas. Cincinnati was down by as many as 11 points in the second half, but forced a number of turnovers while Georgetown struggled shooting the ball in the second half. Georgetown did well to force a second overtime, but came up just short in the end as the Bearcats won 72-70.
Georgetown went into the half up 30-24 and held a 49-38 lead with just over eight minutes remaining in the second, but completely threw that lead away. They would make just two field goals from that point until the end of the second half, but one of those two was a huge one. With the Hoyas down by two points, Otto Porter made a jumper to tie the score at 54-54 and force a first overtime.
The first OT was back and forth, but Cincinnati looked to be in control just as they were at the end of the second half. While up by one point with 20 seconds remaining in the first overtime period, Cincinnati's Dion Dixon drew a foul, but could only convert one of two foul shots. A bad final possession for Georgetown ended with center Henry Sims holding the ball in isolation at the top of the arc, but he made a spectacular play to take the ball to the rim and make a buzzer-beating layup to force overtime again.
Cincinnati and Georgetown traded buckets again in the second OT, with Henry Sims doing his best to try to take over the game, but his team didn't defend well enough on the perimeter to win the game at the end. On what was ultimately the game-winning bucket, Cashmere Wright easily beat Jason Clark off the dribble to create a simple floater to put his team up 72-70 with nine seconds remaining.
Just like in the first overtime, Georgetown's last possession ended inexplicably with Sims taking the ball at the top of the arc. This time, he launched a three-point shot and missed, giving Cincinnati the victory.
Though he wasn't the man on the end of any of the most decisive plays of the game, Cincinnati's Yancy Gates was perhaps the game's most consistent performer on both ends of the floor. He led all scorers with 23 points and also grabbed eight rebounds while recording three steals. Cincinnati had 12 steals as a team in the game, while Georgetown had more turnovers than made field goals in the second half.
Cincinnati moves on to face Syracuse in the semifinals. Georgetown are still in the NCAA Tournament and will be a relatively high seed, but John Thompson is likely to be disappointed with the way that his team played in the second half and the overtime periods.
For more on the two teams, head over to Georgetown Hoyas blog Casual Hoya and Cincinnati Bearcats blog Down The Drive. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.