March 13, 2014
BIG EAST Tournament Central
By Sean Brennan
Special to BIGEAST.com
NEW YORK -DePaul senior Brandon Young had been on the losing side in each of his three trips to the BIG EAST tournament during his career and with just one last shot at tasting victory on the Madison Square Garden floor, he found himself in a position to do little for the DePaul cause in the final minute of Wednesday night's opening-round game vs. Georgetown, having fouled out with 1:01 to play and the Blue Demons clinging to a four-point lead.
But Young finally did get that elusive tournament victory - with a little help from his friends - as newly-crowned BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Billy Garrett sank four clutch free throws in the final 21.9 seconds, and 6-10 Forrest Robinson, who came into the game averaging just 3.4 points per game, drilled a pair of clutch three-pointers down the stretch as 10th-seeded DePaul stunned No. 7 Georgetown, 60-56, in a BIG EAST tournament opening-round game at the Garden.
DePaul (12-20) will now take on No. 2 Creighton and BIG EAST Player of the Year Doug McDermott in the quarterfinals Thursday night at 7 p.m. Georgetown (17-14), which might have seen its NCAA tournament hopes dashed with the loss, was led by D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera's 21 points.
So how was it watching that last agonizing minute of play from the confines of the DePaul bench?
"Watching from the bench, it was tough but I knew the guys out there were capable of getting the job done, like Billy," Young said. "Forrest stepped up big for us today and like I said Billy had a great game. I played horrible. But that's why I got teammates. They were picking me up and being positive and we came out with the win."
The victory was only the second for DePaul in BIG EAST tournament history. The Blue Demons only other win came back in 2009 when, as the No. 16 seed, DePaul toppled Cincinnati. The Demons are now 2-6 all-time in the tournament. As a comparison, Georgetown is now 51-28.
DePaul was holding a 55-48 lead with 2:05 to play when the Hoyas began to close in. Two free throws by Smith-Rivera brought Georgetown within, 55-52 with 1:01 to play, those two free throws coming on the foul that ended Young's night.
But with Young helpless to contribute in the final minute, Garrett, the freshman, rose to the occasion by sinking four pressure-packed free throws in the final 1:01 to play. And when Markel Starks' three-point attempt came up empty as the final horn sounded, Young leaped off the bench, his smile beaming, to greet the teammates who had extended his career at least one more day and gave him that elusive tournament win.
"Obviously that was a heck of a win for our ball club," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. "But I think our guys earned it every step of the way...We've been talking about March and what opportunities lie in March for a couple of weeks now and I think our guys internalized that. I think it speaks to the character of this group. We talk about pride in our team, pride in ourselves, pride in our school. We talked about "We Are DePaul" and we want to prove that we can play. We want to prove that we can win."
The Blue Demons proved that vs. Georgetown, which is now left to wonder if it is NCAA or NIT bound.
"I think we beat a lot of good teams this year," said Georgetown's Jabril Trawick. "I mean, we played a lot of good teams this year. We've been through a lot with the program this year. I think it's disappointing we didn't come out with the win, but at the end of the day, I think that we're a tournament team. We'll see."