IRISH REWIND: Notre Dame outlasts Georgetown in four overtimes

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

WASHINGTON -- Emotionally drained and physically exhausted after winning the highest scoring and longest game in Big East history, members of the Notre Dame men's basketball team still had some additional energy.

So when the Irish locker room door finally closed Saturday afternoon, some 60 minutes behind schedule, players cranked up the music and hopped around as they shed their uniforms.

There certainly was plenty to celebrate at MCI Center after four overtimes -- the longest game in school history.

Notre Dame dodged a potential buzzer-beating defeat three times before pulling away for a 116-111 victory over Georgetown in front of 14,698 fans who thought they would never go home.

"It's just what guys do when they're happy," Irish freshman guard Chris Thomas said of the post-game scene. "It couldn't have been better."

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey, on the bench for the legendary Duke-Kentucky thriller in the 1992 NCAA Tournament as a Blue Devils assistant, rated this one higher.

"I have not been involved in a better game," said Brey, also part of five- and six-overtime games while an assistant coach at nearby DeMatha Catholic (Md.) High School. "There's been nothing better than this one."

The numbers are simply staggering.

Thomas set a school record by playing all 60 minutes. Now averaging 41.1 minutes a game in league play, he scored 22 points with 12 assists, eight rebounds and three steals. He also finished with five turnovers, but four came in the first half. He committed only one miscue the final 40 minutes against one of the league's toughest defensive units.

"It's hard standing up right now," Thomas said. "I can't really feel my legs. My feet were blue, but I'll take it."

Thomas had plenty of help in the backcourt, where junior shooting guard Matt Carroll scored a career-high 30 points with 10 rebounds. Carroll, who also logged a career-high 55 minutes, scored Notre Dame's final seven points -- four free throws and his fifth 3-pointer -- in the fourth overtime to seal it.

"I like playing here," said Carroll, who put on quite a show for family members that made the trip down from Philadelphia. "I was tired. I wanted that game to be over.

"Luckily we came up with some big stops."

Out-rebounded 54-41 the first time these teams played last month in South Bend, Notre Dame tied a league record with 64 rebounds Saturday, including 42 on the defensive end. Georgetown managed 54.

"We took it personal this time," said Irish senior Harold Swanagan, who finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. "Everybody set their mind on boxing out and getting rebounds."

Georgetown sophomore power forward Mike Sweetney scored a career-high 35 points with 20 rebounds and six blocked shots. Center Wesley Wilson added a career-high 26 points with seven rebounds.

"Our guys played their hearts out," said Hoyas coach Craig Esherick. "I couldn't ask for any more effort."

Winners of its last five, Notre Dame is 17-6 overall, 7-3 and tied for second place in the Big East West Division with Syracuse. Georgetown, beaten at home by Notre Dame for a third straight year, falls to 14-8, 5-5.

"There were so many chances to win it, to lose it," Brey said. "It's one of those that's great for college athletics."

Given a fifth chance to take a game they once led by as many as nine points twice in the second half, the Irish ultimately gained control in overtime No. 4.

Freshman Jordan Cornette, on the bench much of the day, scored Notre Dame's first three points in the fourth extra session. His lone field goal off a Ryan Humphrey feed gave the Irish a 105-103 lead. But the Hoyas returned with five quick points, capped by a Henry Thomas baseline drive and dunk. That gave Georgetown its largest lead of the day -- 108-105 -- with 2:47 remaining.

The next possession turned the game to Notre Dame.

Working inside to Humphrey, who struggled from the floor all afternoon, the Irish drew a fifth and final foul on Sweetney, who lingered at the opposite end before finally heading to the bench.

"That really hurt us," Esherick said of Sweetney's departure. "Mike was a big part of our offense."

Georgetown had only one field goal with Sweetney seated.

Humphrey hit both free throws to bring the Irish within one before Notre Dame had had enough.

A Thomas basket and a Carroll 3-pointer capped a 7-0 run to open a four-point cushion, 112-108. A Braswell bucket and a Tony Bethel free throw pulled the Hoyas within one with 50.4 seconds remaining. Carroll then closed it out with four points from the free-throw line.

It was never supposed to get this far to begin with because of Braswell.

Known as a guy who wants the ball in his hands with time running down, Braswell had three chances -- at the end of regulation and with the final seconds ticking down in the first and second overtimes -- to win it.

"There were certainly points during the course of that game where we could have made some shots to win the game," Esherick said.

With the score tied at 84 and 5.2 seconds remaining, Braswell drove the length of the floor but had his shot blocked by Tom Timmermans to end regulation. He missed another flip shot with the score tied at 88 following the first five-minute extra session, then saw his 3-pointer from the top of the key bounce long with the score tied at 97 in the second overtime.

Notre Dame led by as many as four points in the first overtime following a Torrian Jones lay-in. The Irish then scored five quick points to go up 102-97 in the third overtime.

Georgetown's chance to win it there fell apart when Gerald Riley's offering in the lane was blocked by Humphrey. Braswell grabbed the miss and fired in a jumper as fans went wild, but the shot was released after the shot clock had expired.

"They had chances to win it, but we stopped them," Carroll said. "Going into that huddle, we're like 'Hey, we got another one, baby.'

"We weren't going to stop until we had a win."

Six players fouled out, including four Hoyas. With four starters -- Braswell, Sweetney, Riley and Wilson -- all on the bench, Esherick fielded a lineup that included walk-on Trenton Hillier, a wide receiver on the football team, in the final overtime.

Swanagan and Timmermans fouled out for the Irish in a game that had 54 fouls with 72 free throws. The Irish were 27-of-39 from the line, including 14-of-22 in the four overtimes.

Staff writer Tom Noie:

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min fg ft rb pf tp

55 Matt Carroll 9-18 7-9 10 3 30

27 Harold Swanagan 5-7 1-2 10 5 11

54 Ryan Humphrey 8-23 7-12 14 4 23

17 Torrian Jones 3-5 1-3 1 2 7

60 Chris Thomas 7-20 7-8 8 3 22

15 Jordan Cornette 1-1 1-2 4 2 3

49 David Graves 6-16 2-2 7 2 15

23 Tom Timmermans 2-5 1-1 5 5 5

300 TOTALS 41-94 27-39 59 26 116

3-point fg-fga included in totals above: (Carroll 5. Thomas, Graves). 7-23 for 30 percent


min fg ft rb pf tp

20 G. Riley 2-9 3-4 2 5 8

49 M. Sweetney 11-25 13-15 20 5 35

39 W. Wilson 12-21 2-3 7 5 26

53 K. Braswell 5-19 2-2 6 5 12

45 T. Bethel 1-6 6-7 3 4 8

21 C. Freemanl 4-8 0-0 0 0 8

4 O. Faulkner 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

46 D. Hall 3-5 1-1 8 2 10

1 T. Hillier 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

22 H. Thomas 2-3 2-3 0-1 1 1 4

300 TOTALS 40-96 27-33 50 28 111

3-point fg-fga included in totals above: 4 (Riley, Hall 3) 4-15 26.7 for percent.

Halftime: Notre Dame 48, Georgetown 43

Shooting: Notre Dame 41-94 (43.6 percent). Georgetown 40-96 ( 417 percent)

Assists: Notre Dame 26 (Thomas 10, Graves 7), Georgetown 28 (Braswell 10)

Turnovers: Notre Dame 13 (Thomas 5, Humphrey 3), Georgetown 13 (Braswell 3, Riley 3)

Attendance: 14,698.

It was 14 years ago Tuesday - Feb. 9, 2002 - when David Graves and Notre Dame beat Georgetown in four overtimes.AP File Photo