Forward's circus hoop lifts Hoyas to an upset
Aaron Bowen was betrayed by his own cell phone.
Seated beside Georgetown coach John Thompson III shortly after his circus-style tip-in was the winning bucket in the Hoyas' 53-51 upset victory over No. 5 Louisville, the junior forward showed his inexperience with postgame news conferences when a ringtone emerged from his suit pocket.
"See, AB's not used to coming in here," Thompson quipped.
While the assembled media laughed, Bowen's remarkable play -- for his only points of the afternoon -- made its own noise, a roar that erupted from a raucous season-high Verizon Center crowd of 17,474. Those in attendance had more to celebrate as the Hoyas (14-4, 4-3 Big East) beat the Cardinals (16-4, 4-3) for the fourth time in a row and extended the skid of a team that was No. 1 a week ago to three games.
"I just went in for the rebound, and I was just blessed that it went in," said Bowen, another role player who has emerged in the wake of second-leading scorer and rebounder Greg Whittington's academic suspension.
With the game tied at 50-50, Bowen soared through the lane after a missed shot by D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. As he flew past the basket, he caught the ball with his right hand and sent it back over his shoulder, where it settled on the back rim before falling in with 3:38 remaining. Neither team converted another field goal.
"Literally, the dead ball before his basket, he says, 'I'm going to get one, Coach. I'm going to get one,'?" Thompson said. "Then he goes out and does it. That's pretty good."
Markel Starks, who tied with Otto Porter Jr. for a game-high 17 points, was slightly more impressed.
"As soon as we went in the locker room, I told him I've never seen anything like that," Starks said. "I tell him all the time that he's probably one of the most athletic people on this planet. When the shot went up, he just came out of nowhere. He just tipped it, and it was unbelievable."
Thompson rolled his eyes at the superlative, but the effort was emblematic of what was required to overcome 17 turnovers and 38.8 percent shooting.
The Hoyas stifled the Louisville backcourt of senior Peyton Siva, who went scoreless for the first time since his freshman season, and Russ Smith, whose 12 points were well below his 18.7 average. They survived 12 points each from Gorgui Dieng and former George Mason transfer Luke Hancock.
Starks maintained his poise as Georgetown clung to a 46-43 lead, chasing down Wayne Blackshear for a strip after a Porter turnover, then dropping a nifty crossover on his defender to free himself for a smooth jump shot from the wing.
The Cardinals still had two chances to win the game after Porter stepped on the line with 1:07 remaining. He made amends by corralling Smith's missed shot from the top of the key only to hear a whistle for a befuddling held ball. He then yanked down Siva's miss, too, securing the victory with his 12th rebound.
The Hoyas improved to 4-1 since Whittington was suspended.
"We might have been 5-0 with him," Thompson said. "He is a loss. It's a big loss, but as a group I think everyone is stepping up."