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Hoyas Fight For Eight Straight In 69-60 Win Against Marquette
What started out as a slow game for the Hoyas turned into a team effort for a 69-60, come-from-behind win to extend their streak to eight, the longest win streak against conference opponents since the 2006-07 season.
Big contributions with 12 minutes left from Austin Freeman (20 points, 4 rebounds), who went down near the close of the first half with a sprained ankle; Chris Wright (17, 2); Hollis Thompson (5, 13) and Henry Sims (7, 3) gave the Hoyas the lead for the first time in the game, which they would not relinquish.
Freeman, who returned a little late in the second half after getting taped, scored two consecutive jumpers to give the Hoyas the initial lead. But a tough layup by Sims, part of a three-point play, was the straw that put the Hoyas up by five and gave them momentum to continue to raise the lead.
“One play that really sticks out to me was when Henry got an and-1,” Wright said. “He made the free throw and that put us up by five. That was a big turning point. We got some stops and got out in transition. Austin got an easy layup. After that, we just had to get stops.”
Two consecutive rebounds by Sims came before Wright’s half-court pass to the open center for a big dunk with 3:22 left in the game. But it was sophomore Thompson’s defensive effort that stole the show in the second half, grabbing 12 of his 13 total rebounds in the last half, 11 of which were on the defensive end of the court.
“[Hollis Thompson] did an outstanding job of starting to make hustle plays,” coach John Thompson III said. “They were getting every loose ball. They were making the hustle plays in the first half, but in the second half, I feel we did.”
Julian Vaughn (6, 5), whose play has intensified the last five games, was dominate on the boards in the first half, but was in danger of being taken out after racking up four fouls. The senior forward sat out most of the second half, but came in at the two-and-half-minute mark for a big dunk with one minute remaining before earning his fifth foul.
Overall, it was the defensive efforts of both teams that highlighted the afternoon, an area the Hoyas struggled in mightily, especially during their four-in-five-game losing streak at the beginning of conference play. Marquette’s generally aggressive nature made it difficult for the Hoyas to execute at first.
“We didn’t play well,” Thompson said. “You have to give them credit for that. They do a very good job of taking you out of your rhythm and running, jumping, trapping and playing hard.
“I don’t think our defense was poor in the first half. Our rebounding was poor. So we were getting a lot of the same stops as in the first half, but we were getting the ball this time instead of them getting second shots.”
But the Hoyas were able to hold Marquette down in key areas they usually thrive. The Golden Eagles had only five assists on the game and scored just 16.7 percent from three-point land, where they usually average twice that much.
“Well, if you don’t score baskets, obviously you don’t get an assist,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “It was the highest number of turnovers (12) we’ve had in a month, and may have been the lowest number of assists for the year. … Shots that we typically make, didn’t make.”
Georgetown, also typically good from three (ranked second in the Big East and No. 31 in the country), was having an off night in that area. Five of the Hoyas’ first seven shots were from three-point range and none went in.
“We didn’t rely on [the three] too much, we took too many,” Thompson said. “We were off. It wasn’t one of our better outings. In the course of doing that, we did a good job of getting it in and kicking it out. In the second half, we did a better job of throwing it in and getting penetration and getting different kinds of shots.”
Georgetown continues on this week with a two-game road trip, starting off with Connecticut in Hartford Feb. 16 and going further south to Tampa to meet the University of South Florida Feb. 19.