Jan. 9, 2010
WASHINGTON - Georgetown Head Men's Basketball Coach John Thompson III has said all year long that the 12th-ranked Hoyas have players in their locker room who can score points. On Saturday at Verizon Center against 13th-ranked Connecticut, it was junior guard Austin Freeman (Mitchellville, Md./DeMatha).
Freeman nearly out-scored the Huskies by himself in the second half, scoring 28 of his career-high 33 points during the final 20 minutes as Georgetown rallied back from a 15-point halftime deficit, held the Huskies to 29 second half points and scored two baskets in the final minute for a 72-69 win in front of 15,654 fans at Verizon Center. Georgetown improves to 12-2 overall and 3-1 in the BIG EAST Conference, while the Huskies fall to 11-4 overall and 2-2 in league play.
After trailing by 15 points at the half and by as many as 17 points early in the second half, the Hoyas used a pair of runs - first a 14-1 spurt to narrow the gap early in the second half, and then a 14-5 run to take the lead - to make the final seven minutes a tense back-and-forth battle. There were six ties and seven lead changes in just the final eight minutes of the game.
Connecticut had taken a 67-66 lead after a pair of free throws from Kemba Walker, but sophomore center Greg Monroe (New Orleans, La./Helen Cox) put-back a missed layup to give the Hoyas a 68-67 lead with 1:32 left in the game. Alex Oriahkhi hit two free throws to give UConn a 69-68 lead, but junior forward Julian Vaughn (Vienna, Va./Oak Hill Academy) rebounded a Monroe miss with 52 seconds left to give the Hoyas the lead again, 70-69.
The Huskies missed two shots with 50 seconds left and junior guard Chris Wright (Bowie, Md./St. John's College HS) stole the ball from Walker with 13 seconds left and fed it to Freeman, who found Monroe streaking to the basket for a layup, giving the Hoyas a 72-69 lead with nine seconds left. A three-pointer from Stanley Robinson was off the mark in the waning moments and Monroe rebounded it to finish the win.
The Hoyas trailed by 15 points at the half, 40-25, and fell behind by 17 points, after a dunk from Gavin Edwards just 1:46 into the second half. Freeman, however, caught fire, and the rest of his teammates kept finding him. The junior scored 12 points during a 14-1 run and the Hoyas pulled to within four points, 45-41, on his free throws with 14:57 to play. Freeman started the run with a layup, followed with a jumper, hit back-to-back three-pointers and, after a tip-in from Vaughn, capped it off with his free throws. Connecticut still led by seven points after a layup from Jerome Dyson with 12:10 to play in the game, but the Hoyas would not quit, using a 14-5 run over 3:59 to take a 57-55 lead - their first since it was 2-0 - on, what else, a layup from Freeman with 8:13 to play. Freeman scored nine points during that run, hitting a three-pointer and scoring three times on layups.
In the first half, Georgetown trailed by four points, 18-14, after a layup from Jerome Dyson, but a jumper from Benimon and a three-pointer from Freeman gave the Hoyas a 19-18 lead. The Huskies, however, used a 16-0 run and took a 34-19 lead on a three-pointer from Jamal Coombs-McDaniel with 4:54 to play. The lead was 38-21 after a layup from Charles Okwandu, but two baskets from Wright in the final minute of the half pulled Georgetown to within 40-25 at the break.
Freeman's 33 points were a career-high and it was the third time under sixth-year Head Coach John Thompson III that a Hoya player scored at least 30 - it was the second this year, including Wright's 34-point outburst against Harvard on Dec. 23. He hit 12-of-20 shots from the field, connected on 5-of-9 from three-point land and hit all four of his free throws, adding seven rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Monroe registered his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, while Wright added 14 points, four assists and two steals. Vaughn finished with six points, six rebounds, three assists and four blocked shots, while freshman Jerrelle Benimon (Warrenton, Va./Fauquier) added two points and four rebounds and classmate Hollis Thompson (Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola) added two points, three assists and one rebound. Georgetown shots 41.5 percent from the floor (27-of-65), hit 35.0 percent of its three-pointers (7-of-20) and were 73.3 percent from the free throw line (11-of-15). The Hoyas lost the battle on the boards, 38-35, but held a 21-14 advantage in the second half. Georgetown handed out 14 assists, blocked five shots and had 10 steals.
After playing four BIG EAST Conference games in 10 days to start league play, the Hoyas will take a few days off before returning to play league rival Seton Hall on Thursday, Jan. 14. Tipoff at the Phonebooth siated for 7 p.m. The game will be shown live on ESPN2 and can be heard locally on ESPN 980 AM.