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Dunham, offense struggle as No. 21 Butler allows Georgetown to hold on for 60-54 upset

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INDIANAPOLIS — No. 21 Butler didn't play basketball its usual way Tuesday night.

The costly results could be felt for the next several weeks.

On a night the Bulldogs could have put themselves in prime position for the No. 2 seed in the Big East tournament, Indianapolis native D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera helped force two turnovers in the final 10 seconds and made the clinching free throws to give Georgetown a 60-54 victory.

"We are really disappointed, but as I told them in the locker room, this is what we signed up for," coach Chris Holtmann said. "We can play better than this, and we will."

It was an odd night for the Bulldogs (21-9, 11-6), who wound up committing 15 turnovers including two in the final 10 seconds. If that didn't cost them the game, their 10 of 22 shooting from the free throw line certainly did.

Kellen Dunham, the Big East's No. 3 scorer, didn't have a point in the first 26 1/2 minutes or over the final 11 1/2 minutes.

That forced Butler to rely heavily on two seniors — Kameron Woods and Alex Barlow. Woods finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds, while Barlow had 13 points and four rebounds on Senior Night, not quite enough to pull off the late comeback in a loss that could damage its NCAA Tournament seeding.

"The thing tonight that hurt was that we could have executed a lot better," Barlow said.

Smith-Rivera had no trouble executing in front of some of his favorite fans. And though he had played here in a high school regional game and was part of Georgetown's victory at Hinkle Fieldhouse last season, this time was different.

The 6-foot-3 guard made the play of the game when he poked away a rebound from the 6-9 Woods following a missed free throw with 10.2 seconds left and Georgetown clinging to a 56-54 lead. Smith-Rivera was then fouled and made both free throws to seal it.

Afterward, the emotional junior reveled in the victory celebration by hugging those who came to watch.

"He had the ball, and Coach usually tells me there to sprint back on defense, but Woods exposed the ball," he said. "In my mind, it was either get it, or I would have been in trouble. I got it."

PHOTO: Georgetown head coach John Thompson III signals to his team as they play against Georgetown in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Georgetown head coach John Thompson III signals to his team as they play against Georgetown in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

In some ways, it was a strange night for the Hoyas (19-9, 11-6), too. Despite winning for the fourth time in five games and staying in the hunt for the No. 2 seed, Georgetown was outrebounded 39-20 overall, 17-2 on the offensive end and outscored 15-2 on second-chance points.

In other ways, the game had John Thompson III's trademark signature all over it.

Georgetown held Butler to 35.3 percent shooting, limited Dunham to just eight points and had 10 blocks.

The Hoyas led 34-24 early in the second half, only to watch Butler charge back to regain the lead at 40-39.

But the Hoyas answered with five straight points and Smith-Rivera made sure Georgetown never trailed again.

"It meant a lot to me to make those last two free throws," said Smith-Rivera, who played prep ball at nearby North Central High School. "It meant a lot, too, to play well in front of a lot of people I grew up with."


TIP-INS

Georgetown: Freshman Isaac Copeland has played a big role down the stretch. But after averaging 10.8 points and 6.7 rebounds in the previous 10 games, Copeland had five points on 1 of 6 shooting and three rebounds Tuesday.

Butler: Starting forward Andrew Chrabascz returned to action after missing the previous four games with a broken bone in his right hand. While the sophomore was active, he was not his usually efficient self, finishing with eight points and two rebounds.

FOND FAREWELL: It wasn't just a farewell game for Butler's seniors. The school's sports information director, Jim McGrath, worked his final home game, too. McGrath is retiring this year after 34 seasons as the head of Butler's public relations staff in the athletic department. He was honored with a video tribute during the first media timeout.

UP NEXT

Georgetown: hosts Seton Hall on Saturday,

Butler: visits No. 24 Providence on Saturday.

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