MEN'S BASKETBALL | Hoyas Eke Out Win Over Scarlet Knights
Georgetown 52, Rutgers 50
Published: Saturday, January 21, 2012
Updated: Sunday, January 22, 2012 05:01
In Georgetown's worst offensive performance of the year, it was, ironically, free-throw shooting that saved the Hoyas from a second straight home loss.
No. 10 Georgetown (16-3, 6-2 Big East) scored nearly half its points at the line to escape an aggressive Rutgers team (11-9, 3-4) that was seeking for its third victory against a national top-10 team this season after flooring Florida and UConn earlier in the year.
Georgetown made just 12 field goals on 29 percent shooting from the field — including a 3-of-14 mark from long range — and turned the ball over 14 times. The Hoyas fared uncharacteristically well at the charity stripe, however, shooting 25-of-36 in the 52-50 win. The Scarlet Knights attempted just seven free throws the entire game.
"Our defense won the game for us, allowed us to withstand a day where we were not good offensively," Head Coach John Thompson III said. "Sometimes you're having a bad offensive day because the other team is disrupting you, but today is the second time I've felt like there was a lid on the basket."
In a back-and-forth affair, both teams missed opportunities to run away with the game, but Rutgers seemed on the brink of winning with less than three minutes remaining. After Georgetown turned the ball over, freshman guard Eli Carter drained a three-pointer to give the Scarlet Knights a five-point lead. After a foul, senior center Henry Sims made just one of two free throws, and Rutgers had the ball back with a four-point lead and less than two minutes on the clock.
Then, sophomore forward Nate Lubick turned the game around. Lubick stole the ball from Rutgers junior Dane Miller and threw a long pass to forward Otto Porter, who was hovering down the court. The freshman scored off the turnover, and suddenly the Hoyas were down only two.
After Carter was called for a charge against senior guard Jason Clark, the Blue and Gray had a chance to tie the game. Porter hit a jump shot at the one-minute mark, and Rutgers guard Myles Mack missed a long three-pointer contests by senior guard Jason Clark and freshman forward Greg Whittington.
"The coaches said just sag off, so when [Mack] rises up, I'll have the ability to [rise] up and contest his shot," Whittington said.
Following a timeout by the Hoyas, Porter was fouled by Mike Poole with just eight seconds left. Georgetown fans were left to hold their breath, as the Hoyas were only 9-of-16 from the free throw line at that point in the second half. The Missouri native calmly sunk both shots, and Rutgers had one last chance to tie or win the game.
"It relieved a lot of pressure," Porter said of his two free throws.
Carter drove the ball down the court and found room in the middle of the lane, but his shot bounced off the backboard. Finally, the crowd was able to exhale.
"We know we're going to have days like that, but we're a very good defensive team," Clark said. "We can get stops, get stops in transition and knock down our free throws."
In the first half, the Scarlet Knights shot 41 percent to the Hoyas' 13 percent, and sank four-of-eight three-pointers — including two fortunate bank shots that extinguished any momentum Georgetown could muster. The Hoyas were held to just 20 points, 14 of which came at the foul line. Overall, Rutgers' aggressive style of play cost them, but the final two fouls against Carter and Poole had Head Coach Mike Rice scratching his head.
"I'd like to look on replay to see if they were the correct foul, because again, we do foul, we did play a lot without purpose," Rice said. "But it was an interesting last two minutes that were decided by a couple of whistles by a certain individual referee who decided to take it upon himself to decide the game."
Junior forward Hollis Thompson was ineffective for the Hoyas, shooting 1-of-5 for just four points one rebound. However, Thompson III said after the game that his second-leading scorer had a pulled muscle, and was not 100 percent for the game.
Both Thompson and starting point guard Markel Starks played limited minutes, as Starks got into foul trouble midway through the second half. As a result, there was more pressure on Porter and Whittington to contribute — and contribute they did.
The freshman duo combined for 16 points and nine rebounds, including six offensive boards. Whittington scored all seven of his points in a two-minute span to tie the game after the Blue and Gray found themselves in a 38-31 hole in the second half.
Carter led all scorers with 14 points, and Sims led Georgetown with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Clark added 11 points, including an 8-of-10 performance from the charity stripe.
The Hoyas now have a week off to prepare for Pittsburgh, the only Big East team without a win in conference play. The Panthers, ranked in the top-ten to start the season, gladly welcome back starting point Travon Woodall, who has been out for the last month with an injury.
Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh.