KANSAS CITY — Finally, Missouri had the lead. The Tigers were up by four points with less than 20 seconds to go. A couple made free throws would seal the deal.
The free throws never came.
“They made free throws and that’s something we didn’t do,” Michael Dixon said.
Free throws win ballgames. It’s a commonly accepted fact in basketball that the Missouri men’s basketball team learned the hard way Tuesday night in its 111-102 overtime loss to Georgetown at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
The Tigers shot 74 percent from the line while Georgetown was perfect. Free throws were the difference in the game.
Missouri spent most of the second half battling back from Georgetown’s dominating first half, finally grabbing a one-point lead thanks to a Michael Dixon layup with almost six minutes to play. Missouri held onto a four-point lead with 20 seconds left. In an attempt to get back into the game, Georgetown resorted to fouling Missouri to keep the Tigers from running out the clock.
Missouri was up 93-89 when Laurence Bowers missed the first of a one-and-one. A dead ball rebound gave Bowers another chance, but he missed the next free throw as well. With 15 seconds left, Missouri’s Michael Dixon fouled Georgetown’s Chris Wright. Wright made both of his free throws, Missouri led by two.
Dixon’s turn at the line was next. He made the first, but the second hit the rim and went astray,
"I'm a point guard. Point guards make free throws," Dixon said.
Dixon scored 17 points for Missouri, but went 8-11 from the line.
"I take responsibility. I kind of let my team down," Dixon said.
Dixon's final missed free-throw set the stage for Wright to hit a 3-pointer for the Hoyas that tied the game 94-94 as time expired.
Wright stood in the middle of the court, throwing body punches into the air that might have well as been real, the Tigers would not get back up.
“He just zeroed in and hit the shot,” Michael Dixon said.
In overtime, Georgetown’s intensity carried over. Jason Clark went on a shooting spree, lighting the Tigers up with three 3-pointers as Georgetown pulled ahead. When Missouri tried to foul to save time, Georgetown sealed the victory by continuing to make free throws.
The competitiveness of the game was relentless. At halftime Missouri trailed Georgetown 54-47, but even at that point there was hot debate.
Austin Freeman’s fifth 3-pointer of the night appeared to come after the shot clock expired. Freeman led the Hoyas with 31 points.
After a Ricardo Ratliffe free throw, Missouri had cut the Georgetown lead to six. Fans took to their feet and the sound inside the Sprint Center swelled as Missouri put on their pressure defense. The noise began to increase as the shot clock dwindled.
Wright was tied up by Missouri defenders, and as he was falling away, found Freeman with the shot clock approaching zero. Freeman rushed to shoot and drained his shot, but it appeared the shot clock had run out before he released the ball.
Freeman ran down the court shrugging his shoulders as if he couldn’t miss, but his shot was a topic of conversation for the rest of the half. Missouri fans harassed the referees, and Missouri coach Mike Anderson approached the scorer’s table at halftime but was told the play was not reviewable.