WASHINGTON — For 37 1/2 minutes Tuesday night, Creighton did just about everything needed to be in a position to pull out a big-time win over Georgetown.
For the last 2 1/2 minutes, the Bluejays did little right in seeing that potential victory turn into a crushing 74-73 loss before an announced crowd of 6,897 at the Verizon Center.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera's two free throws with 6.2 seconds remaining capped a furious comeback by the Hoyas, who outscored Creighton 15-3 after Maurice Watson had given Creighton a 70-59 lead with 2:32 to play.
"This one is tough to swallow because we felt like we were in a good position," Creighton center Zach Hanson said. "And we didn't finish."
Georgetown turned up the pressure on defense to force two crucial turnovers on Creighton's last seven possessions. The Bluejays contributed to their demise by missing two shots and misfiring on three free throws in the final 1:35.
"We should have won that game," Creighton guard Isaiah Zierden said. "We had that game with two minutes left and we couldn't find a way to close it out."
Sense a theme starting to build? To a man, the Bluejays were convinced that if they had been a little tougher in crunch time, they wouldn't have cracked when Georgetown went into desperation mode.
"I don't know if we gave away or they took it or it was a little bit of both," Creighton forward Cole Huff said. "We were right there, and that makes this one sting."
In turn, it made all the good things the Bluejays did most of the game all for naught. Creighton buckled down on defense, outrebounded the Hoyas, kept its turnovers at a minimum and made free throws.
In the end, though, it was Georgetown (13-8, 6-2) that strung together the biggest plays to snatch up the victory that left it tied for second place in the Big East.
Creighton, which had won its first three league road games, fell to 5-3 in Big East play and 14-7 overall.
"They made some plays down the stretch," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "I felt like we dominated the
After leading by 11 with 2:32 remaining, Jays make mistakes and miss free throws to allow a furious rally by Georgetown game for the most part of 37 minutes. We didn't execute late, and as their coach, I have to find a way to bring them home.
"I didn't do that today." The Bluejays appeared on the brink of their first win in three visits here as a Big East member when Watson put them ahead 70-59 with 2:32 to play. The Hoyas still trailed 71-64 a minute later when Smith-Rivera missed the second of two free throws.
The Hoyas got the rebound, and Smith-Rivera made a layup eight seconds later to cut the Creighton lead to five. The Hoyas then scored four straight points after a pair of Bluejay turnovers in the frontcourt, trimming their deficit to 71-70 when Kaleb Johnson dunked with 50 seconds left.
Two James Milliken free throws made it 73-70 with 44 seconds to play before Georgetown pulled back within a point on Reggie Cameron's tip-in with 30 seconds to play.
The Hoyas then caught a break when freshman Khyri Thomas missed two free throws with 23 seconds left. Georgetown got the ball to Smith-Rivera, who was fouled by Watson on a hard drive to the basket.
"I just knew we needed plays to be made," said Smith-Rivera, who led Georgetown with 19 points. "He (Georgetown coach John Thompson III) didn't call a timeout and he didn't draw anything up. He trusted me, and I wanted to come through."
He sank both free throws to give the Hoyas only their second lead of the final 20 minutes.
"I really didn't think about it too much," Smith-Rivera said. "I shoot every day. My teammates instill the confidence in me to know down the stretch you've got to make the plays. That's what I wanted to do."
The Bluejays got the last shot, but Milliken's wild, off-balance layup was way off target. L.J. Peak rebounded the miss, and the Hoyas started celebrating.
The Bluejays were left to pick through their late mistakes.
"It wasn't them that beat us," said Watson, who led Creighton with 16 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists. "We beat ourselves. We turned it over. I turned it over."
Watson's sixth turnover of the game led to the Johnson dunk that pulled Georgetown within one point.
"We talked about it all the time, being disciplined and being able to close out games," Watson said. "We just have to get back to work and not let this one affect our season."