In the National Hockey League and the National Football League, two teams that are tied after regulation play an extra period to determine a winner. If a winner is not decided, the game ends in a classic hockey shootout or a tie football fans are tired of experiencing. In college basketball, the two teams play an infinite amount of five-minute overtime periods until someone has more than points.
I bring this up because two extra periods in a college basketball game happened not once, but twice in the Big East Conference. That may be one less than the number of teams who are 12-4 in the conference standings, but it is impressive given how competitive Big East play has been. With the end of the regular season around the corner, it is time to break down several games frame by frame.
Writer’s note: Two conference wins for Georgetown? This season is already better than last year for the Hoyas.
Player of the Week:
Bryce Hopkins – Providence
Freshman of the Week:
AJ Storr – St. John’s
No. 18 Creighton vs. No. 24 Providence (Feb. 14): Woah! Blocking with no Rim!
Both teams had the hot hand going in, as the Creighton Blue Jays entered with an eight-game winning streak while the Providence Friars had not lost a home game this season. One of those streaks concluded at the AMP, but it took more than regulation to determine which one fell.
The game could have ended in regulation as both teams exchanged punches, but layups from Ryan Nembhard and Bryce Hopkins did not affect the final minute as tight defenses forced the first overtime period. The Friars jumped out early in the extra frame, but Nembhard scored seven of his team’s first nine points and Baylor Scheierman tied the game with two free throws. The Blue Jays could have stolen victory as Nembhard let a shot fly outside of the paint, but Devin Carter rejected it and forced an extra five minutes. Providence’s defense kept Creighton off the board for the first four minutes of that frame as a Bryce Hopkins dunk iced a 94-86 statement victory.
While Hopkins and Noah Locke each scored 20 on eight buckets, Carter had his best game as a Friar with 25 points and two blocks. Nembhard had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Jays while Trey Alexander and Arthur Kaluma each had 17. The tiebreaker cannot be settled by the head-to-head record, but their matchups against the top teams in the conference should determine who gets the higher seed in the Big East Tournament.
St. John’s vs. DePaul (Feb. 14): David Jones’ Locker
David Jones is a junior forward for the St. John’s Red Storm who entered averaging 12.8 points and almost seven rebounds. No love was lost on Valentine’s Day as Jones returned to the Windy City to play against his former team, the DePaul Blue Demons.
DePaul went ahead by double figures multiple times in regulation but hoped to experience a different outcome the second time around. That did not happen as Dylan Addae-Wusu made two game-tying baskets, one of which was a three that answered Jalen Terry’s in the last second. Jones missed a chance to write a storybook ending against his former team, and it meant that an overtime period would be required. Da’Sean Nelson’s dunk was the Blue Demons’ only field goal of the first overtime period, and both offenses remained flat as an Eral Penn block forced another overtime. Addae-Wusu’s dagger with 100 seconds left sealed a Red Storm sweep as they shut out DePaul in the second extra frame for a 92-83 win.
Jones played 40 minutes off the bench, scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 boards as one of three Johnnies with a double-double. Johnson could not miss as he scored 26 points and made six threes for the Blue Demons while Umoja Gibson made half as many. Jones got revenge against his former team twice, and perhaps that provides the Red Storm with some momentum heading into the final two weeks of conference play.
No. 16 Xavier vs. No. 11 Marquette (Feb. 15): High Home Stakes Hold’em
Both teams had a lot at stake with regards to their seeding for the conference tournament, whether it was winning a significant home game or overcoming a slew of injuries. This pivotal contest was settled late in regulation given the circumstances, but not how anyone expected it to go.
Everyone figured the Marquette Golden Eagles would wipe the floor against the Xavier Musketeers, given that Zach Freemantle sustained a broken foot, but that is not remotely close to how the first half transpired. Behind a stout defense, Xavier led by 13 in the first half before a Marquette rally put them ahead early in the second. The Musketeers stayed ahead offensively, but even with some free throws from Jerome Hunter, the Golden Eagles had one more trick up their sleeve. Olivier-Maxence Prosper made a dunk with 29 seconds left, then grabbed the offensive rebound and threw down the hammer with one second remaining as Marquette halted Xavier’s upset bid 69-68.
Stevie Mitchell shot 6-11 for 17 points while Tyler Kolek dished out five assists for the Golden Eagles. Souley Boum scored 24 points whilst playing every minute as three other Musketeer starters crossed double figures. Xavier is a team that has enough pieces to succeed even with Freemantle out of the action, and even though that has not yet been the case on the road, two wins in their final road trip would help them out in the long run.
Competition has reigned supreme in the Big East, despite a handful of blowouts occurring on a weekly basis. A closer investigation may be needed to figure out who is operating the engine that is making the conference so competitive, which could help us understand the significance of this trend across the nation.