NEW YORK (AP) — Yancy Gates and his 260 pounds rumbled up and down the floor for 46 minutes in another multiple-OT classic at the Big East tournament.
The Cincinnati senior was still such a force in the second overtime Thursday that the Georgetown defense swarmed to him on the Bearcats' final possession, freeing Cashmere Wright to hit the winning shot in a 72-70 quarterfinal victory over the 13th-ranked Hoyas.
Gates scored 23 points in his back-and-forth big man duel with Henry Sims, including two baskets in the last 2 minutes of regulation as fourth-seeded Cincinnati rallied from an 11-point deficit with less than 8½ minutes left.
"This is my last shot at it, so you don't want to just play one game and go home right away," Gates said. "I'll never play in the Garden in the Big East tournament again, so just trying to push and fight and stay here as long as possible."
Wright banked in a runner with 7.6 seconds to go.
"It was all set by Yancy," he said. "They were respecting him so much — like when he ducked in, seemed like the whole team just sucked into him, so the hole just opened up wide open, and I just took it upon myself to try to win the game for my team."
Georgetown's Otto Porter sent the game to overtime when his jumper bounced in with 3.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
Sims, who had 22 points and 15 rebounds, hit a layup at the buzzer to force a second OT for the Hoyas (23-8). Well out of his range, Sims missed a potential winning 3-pointer at the close of the final period.
"I'd much rather have that shot at the end," he said.
The Bearcats (23-9) face second-ranked Syracuse in Friday's semifinals.
Cincinnati won despite missing 19 of 21 3-point attempts. Dion Dixon, who scored 22 points in a Cincy road win in the teams' first meeting, was 4 of 17 from the field, 0 of 6 from behind the arc and 5 of 9 from the foul line.
"Today was a great example of the character of our team," coach Mick Cronin said. "So I couldn't be more proud of these guys right now, to go 2 for 21 from 3 against Georgetown and win the game is unthinkable, to be honest with you."
The teams tied with South Florida for fourth place during the regular season, with the Bearcats winning the tiebreaker to earn a double bye in the Big East tournament for the first time since joining the conference for the 2005-06 season.
After a timeout with 1:56 left in regulation, Cincinnati got the ball inside to Gates, who scored over Sims to pull Cincinnati within a point. Then when Wright missed a drive with 38 seconds remaining, Gates put it back for a 53-52 lead.
"His best basketball is way ahead of him still as he continues to develop his body and become an adult," Cronin said. "He's been called upon to do a lot, too much, in rebuilding our program, before he was ready to do it. It was really unfair. He's been through a lot.
"So for me, two things: I'm happy for him, but also as a coach, it's great when you know you've got a horse and you get him the ball and he's delivering."
Dixon made the front end of a one-and-one with 25.9 seconds to go but missed the second. The fifth-seeded Hoyas chose not to call a timeout, and with the clock winding down, Sims found Porter open for a short jumper.
The Bearcats tried a long pass to Gates, who couldn't corral the ball at the foul line. The 6-foot-9 senior chased it down and was able to launch an off-balance 3-point attempt just before the buzzer, but completely missed the rim.
Dixon again made just one of two free throws with 19.7 seconds left in the first OT to put Cincinnati up 62-60.
After a timeout, the Hoyas couldn't get their offense going as the clock dwindled. The 6-10, 245-pound Sims found himself with the ball at the top of the key, so the big guy put it on the floor. With long stride after long stride, he barreled toward the basket as the seconds ticked away, releasing a layup just before the buzzer to send the game to a second OT.
"We both were caught up on getting tough baskets down the stretch for our team," Gates said, "so it was just a good battle between two big men, two seniors, too, trying to stay in New York for a day longer."
Notes: This was the first multiple-overtime game at the Big East tournament since Syracuse beat UConn in six OTs in the 2009 quarterfinals. ... The game had seven ties and 18 lead changes. ... The Orange beat the Bearcats 60-53 in Cincinnati on Jan. 23 in the teams' lone meeting this season.
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