NEW YORK (AP) — There wasn’t much doubt who Georgetown would turn to late in the game and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera came through again.
Smith-Rivera scored 25 points, including 12 of Georgetown’s final 14 of the game, and the 23rd-ranked Hoyas beat Creighton 60-55 on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
The junior guard and first-team all-conference selection took over in the last 5 minutes when the second-seeded Hoyas finally took the lead for good over the upset-minded Bluejays, who finished last in the conference. His final points were two free throws with 3.2 seconds left.
“We got to the point where we needed someone to step up,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. “You’ve heard me say all year, when we need baskets, everyone knows who we’re going to. … He answered today.”
The Hoyas (21-9) will face sixth-seeded Xavier, which beat 22nd-ranked and third-seeded Butler 67-61, in Friday night’s semifinals. It is their first semifinal appearance since 2010. Georgetown has won the tournament seven times, tying former member Connecticut for the most titles.
James Milliken led 10th-seeded Creighton (14-19) with 17 points.
The Bluejays, who lost in the championship game to Providence last year, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 78-63 victory over DePaul.
The matchup that seemed so one-sided on paper was anything but. A scoop shot by Austin Chatman as the shot clock ran out gave the Bluejays a 51-45 lead with 6 minutes to play.
It was just about a minute later that Smith-Rivera started his run, hitting a 3-pointer, a three-point play and a driving shot when he was falling down. He closed his spurt with four free throws, including the clinchers.
“At that point they were on the run. I really just wanted to make a play, and the guys were looking for me to make something happen,” Smith-Rivera said of his run. “At that point that’s what I wanted to do.”
Creighton hurt itself late by committing three of its 18 turnovers in the final 2:15.
“I felt like, in a lot of ways, we outplayed Georgetown tonight. Then in the last 3 minutes they made some plays and we didn’t,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “Smith-Rivera, obviously, made some big plays late in the game and then we had some costly turnovers that you can’t have against a team the quality of Georgetown.”
The win gave Georgetown a sweep of Creighton this season. The Hoyas won the two regular-season meetings by 15 and 27 points, holding the Bluejays to a season-low 40 points in the latter.
“They played a lot faster today,” Smith-Rivera said of Creighton. “Their transition was really good and they were really physical. … It’s hard to beat anybody three times in a year. We knew they were going to come out tough.”
Joshua Smith added 10 points for the Hoyas. Chatman had 11 points for the Bluejays, who finished with a 31-28 rebound advantage.
“Georgetown hit some good shots there in the end. They put themselves in position with a few minutes left to win the game,” Creighton’s Rick Kreklow said. “We had our chances, they had theirs. Unfortunately tonight we weren’t able to hit the shots that we had or just let a pass or two get away from us.”
Creighton: Avery Dingman went down with an injury to his right leg after a collision with 8 minutes left. He was helped to the locker room and never returned. … The Bluejays were 6 for 8 from the free throw line, compared to Georgetown’s 20 of 26.
Georgetown: The Hoyas’ heralded tandem of freshmen L.J. Peak and Isaac Copeland were scoreless in the first half and finished with three and two points, respectively. … Georgetown had 11 steals led by Jabril Trawick’s three.
The nip-and-tuck game was a far cry from the first four of the tournament. The closest was decided by 15 points and the average margin of victory was 22 points.
Creighton: Season over.
Georgetown: Big East semifinals on Friday night against Xavier.
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