With about five minutes left in every game, the press is informed which players will be available in thepostgame press conference. Against Rutgers, seniors Jason Clark and Henry Sims and freshman Greg Whittington were scheduled to join Head Coach John Thompson III in talking to reporters. But just a few minutes later, another freshman forced his way into the room by virtue of his play.

Freshman forward Otto Porter, coming off a 15-rebound performance against DePaul, was sensational down the stretch on Saturday. The Missouri native scored the last six points of the game, turning a four-point deficit into a two-point win for the Blue and Gray in an ugly game that saw only two Hoyas — Porter and Whittington — connect on more than two shots from the field. Neither freshman was particularly efficient, as Porter went 3-of-7 from the field for nine points and Whittington 3-of-9 for seven points, but each contributed at key points in the game. Whittington showed impressive mental toughness, rebounding from early struggles to score all of his points in a 1:41 second-half explosion.

“Whittington had a good stretch when he had [seven] points that we needed,” Thompson III said. “[He] really got us going.”

“I just played defense and it gave me the confidence to make shots,” Whittington said. “Everyone misses shots. I wasn’t expecting myself to miss a layup, but I just kept my composure andconfidence.”

Porter’s run, however, will be what sticks in the memories of fans and players alike due to its timing. After struggling to score for much of the game — the Blue and Gray shot just 13 percent from the field in the first half — it was hard to see how the Hoyas were going to overcome even a relatively small five-point deficit after Rutgers freshman guard Eli Carter drilled a three with 2:33 left.

Enter Porter.

After a Sims foul shot cut the lead to four, an impressive steal and outlet pass by sophomore forward Nate Lubick found Porter streaking down the court. The freshman battled through contact to hit a tough layup with no call, a rare instance of the referees showing restraint on a night in which Rutgers was whistled for an astounding 29 fouls, leading to 36 Georgetown free throws and 25 points.

After Carter committed an offensive foul on Rutgers’ next possession, Porter stepped up again. Thompson III reinserted junior Hollis Thompson — who played a largely ineffectual 21 minutes thanks to the tough Scarlet Knight defense and a reported pulled muscle — with the intention of opening up space in the middle of the Rutgers zone. It was the freshman, however, who took advantage. Porter received the ball on the foul line, rose up and knocked down the game-tying jumper with 1:05 to play.

“When [Porter] got the ball in the middle of the zone, he stood there to be guarded for three seconds, and none of our guards dug down on the ball,” Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice said after the game.

——

After Rutgers’ Mack Miles settled for a long, contested three on the visitors’ next possession, it was Porter’s turn to be the hero again, albeit in slightly anticlimactic circumstances. With 8.5 seconds left and the Hoyas passing around the perimeter, Mike Pool was whistled for an off-ball foul on Porter with Georgetown already in the double bonus.

“There were some bizarre whistles,” a clearly irritated Rice said. “It was interesting [in] the last two minutes that it was decided by a whistle by a certain individual referee who decided to take it upon himself to decide the game. … I don’t know where you come up with that [foul].”

On the other side, Porter seemed surprised by the call as well.

“I’m not sure what happened,” he said in response to a question about the play. “I just know that the referee called a foul.”

The game wasn’t over yet, though, as Porter still had to make his free throws. The team as a whole struggled from the line in the second half, going 9-of-16 before Porter was fouled. A middling shooter from the charity stripe at 66 percent, Porter is nevertheless no stranger to taking and making clutchfreethrows, most notably in the Hoyas’ win over then-No. 4 Louisville. In the friendlier confines of Verizon Center, Porter had to contend with a lot less noise, as the crowd waited nervously and expectantly for him to take his shots. He calmly drilled both, and the crowd exploded.

“Otto doesn’t get rattled,” Thompson III said. “He just plays the game.”

The Hoyas still had to get a stop, though, and they did. Carter’s layup caromed off the rim as time expired and the Georgetown bench streamed onto the court, surrounding Porter as the team celebrated his game-winning free throws.

The problems that have plagued this team certainly aren’t all solved. The Hoyas turned the ball over 14 times thanks to an alarming propensity for lazy passes and were mediocre from the foul stripe in the second half. But largely thanks to Porter’s efforts, they’ll be celebrating an ugly win tonight rather than going over how they could have avoided becoming Rutgers’ third top-10 victim of the year.

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