NEW YORK—At 270 pounds, Xavier’s Matt Stainbrook won the battle with the 350-pound Joshua Smith for most of the game, scoring 20 points and grabbing 9 rebounds to give Xavier a 53-33 lead. However, he did not get another point or rebound from that point on as the Hoyas turned up the pressure for a ferocious run to fall just short 65-63.
In the Breitbart Sports photo above, 190-pound Xavier sharp-shooter JP Macura is about to get run over by the combined 620 pounds of Smith and Stainbrook.
Georgetown took an early lead, but Stainbrook scored 12 of Xavier’s first 29 points, capped by an offensive rebound and stick back with 4:23 to play and then a jumper with 3:25 to go that made it 29-24. Smith also hit four of his first five shots but had only two rebounds by the time he picked up his fourth foul with 8:44 left. After he took the bench, Xavier Jalen Reynolds hit both free throws to make it 53-33.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera still looked hampered by an injury that forced him to sit out of the last regular season game just after being selected by NBA Draft Net as Big East Player of the Week the previous week.
Technical Almost Provides Turning Point
On the next trip, Georgetown’s Jabril Traywick had to be restrained from going after Reynolds, being fouled and then being contacted a second time by Reynolds for a technical. The Hoyas converted it into a 5-point play with 7:22 left for the first ray of hope at 53-38.
That started a 10-0 run in just one minute 24 seconds that culminated when Trawick hit a three-pointer with 5:58 left to cut it to 53-43.
A couple of minutes later freshman Isaac Copeland hit a three-pointer from the left corner to make it 54-48.
With 2:33 to play Trawick drove baseline to pick up Stainbrook’s fourth foul. Traywick hit both ends of the 1-and-1 to slash the deficit to 57-52. Mikael Hopkins then played great defense on Stainbrook with the shot clock running down and the ball went out of bounds. The Hoyas then just missed bringing the house down when an alley-oop pass went off the finger tips at the other end rather than resulting in a slam that would have made it a one-score game.
Traywick drove baseline again to draw the whole defense, then hit Aaron Bowen with a perfect pass into the right corner, where Bowen drained the three-pointer to cut it to 59-57 with 23 seconds to play. After Xavier missed three of four free throws, Smith-Rivera drove to the hoop to cut it to 60-59 with 14.7 seconds left.
Trawick Unable to Miss Any Free Throws
Xavier’s Dee Davis finally hit two free throws to make it 62-59, and Xavier fouled Trawick with 5.4 seconds rather than take a chance on a three-pointer. Rather than miss the second shot that might have resulted in an offensive rebound and tie game, he hit both to make it 62-61 and Georgetown quickly fouled Xavier’s Myles Davis, who hit both. Traywick was fouled again with 1.9 seconds left, but again he hit both free throws to leave the Hoyas still down 64-63. Xaviers’ James Farr was then fouled immediately with 1.3 remaining, hitting the first for the final 65-63 margin and then missing the second to leave Georgetown no chance to inbound for a last second shot.
Trawick looked frustrated after the last free throw went in. But the art of missing a free throw on purpose is often difficult since the ball must hit the rim.
Xavier plays Villanova, also a two-point winner earlier Friday evening, in the Championship Saturday night (see Big East: Best Team Survives Against Best Player).