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Hoyas Earn Third-Straight in Comeback Win Against Rutgers
Georgetown used a late comeback stretch to pull out a 52-50 win against Rutgers Jan. 21 at Verizon Center. In a game of very little offense from the Hoyas, their free throws and key stretches gave them their third win in a row.
“Our defense won the game for us,” coach John Thompson III said. “Our defense enabled us to hang around, to withstand a day when we were not good offensively.”
In the first half, not good would have been an understatement. The Hoyas were 13 percent from the field, making three of 23 shots and none of their eight three-point attempts. However, they only trailed by five at the half thanks to 14 Rutgers fouls which led to 18 free throw attempts for the Hoyas, who ended up making 14.
“I didn’t look at that boxscore at halftime,” Thompson said. Though he wasn’t upset about it, he went on to say, because he — and his team — understand that as long as the team doesn’t focus on the poor offense and let it affect the defense, there is a still a chance to stay in the game.
“What this team and these guys understand and are willing to do is say, ‘OK, now we have to go to the other end and get a stop.’ Sometimes you miss a shot and all of a sudden your defense gets loose because you’re thinking about that shot. These guys have done a good job this year and it was evident.”
Markel Starks hit a three to the start the second half, but the Hoyas followed that with a few good shots and then a five-minute stretch with no field goals. This was where freshman Greg Whittington, who entered the game with the lowest field goal percentage of the Hoyas top scorers, sunk a layup, snagged a jumper and tossed in a three to tie the game at 38-all.
“I was doing the things I know I can do,” Whittington said. “Coach said be aggressive, go after it, play hard D. So I played defense and it gave me confidence to make shots.”
It would neck-and-neck from there until Rutgers got up 50-45 with 2:33 to go. Henry Sims hit a foul shot before Nate Lubick got a steal and passed it to Otto Porter, waiting at mid-court, for the layup. Porter took control of closing out the game from there, scoring another layup to tie it up and — in an ironic ending to a game for Georgetown defined by their free throws — hitting two game-winning free throws in the remaining 10 seconds of the game.
“Just hit the free throw, that’s all I was thinking about,” said Porter.
Rutgers coach Mike Rice described his team’s play as “aggressive but without purpose.” He said his team getting into foul trouble hurt them as well as leaving Porter open in the play that tied the game up.
Thompson echoed the Scarlet Knight’s aggressiveness, and Jason Clark agreed there are not always going to be games when the shots come easy, especially in the Big East.
“We knew we were going to have days like where we’re not hitting shots,” Clark said. “Like Coach said, we’re a very good defensive team so we can get stops and get out on transition, get stops and knock down our free throws, that takes away from everything.
“It gives us confidence in our defense. When we’re not hitting shots, we have to play defense so we knew there was going to be days like this so if we keep playing defense, we can pull out wins.”