Georgetown’s Big Three comes up short against St. John’s

January 3, 2011

Georgetown’s Big Three don’t appear to have much for the Big East.

The No. 13 Hoyas (12-3, 1-2 Big East) dropped their second game in six days as the trio of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Jason Clark were limited to 20 combined points. St. John’s (10-3, 3-0 Big East) moved into sole possession of first place in the conference with the 61-58 victory.

The Monday night game in Madison Square Garden went down to the wire, but it was the Hoyas who were playing from behind for most of the game.

“Coming down the stretch, we’ve got to get one stop, we’ve got to get one rebound and we win,” head coach John Thompson III said. “We had several opportunities for that and we didn’t.”

Clark hit two clutch free throws to give Georgetown a one-point lead with 23 seconds to play, but in a blink of an eye the Red Storm struck back and dashed the Hoyas hopes of stealing their first Big East road victory. Coming out of a timeout, senior guard Dwight Hardy pulled a stutter step move to drive to the basket, and senior forward Justin Brownlee was there for an easy putback when he missed.

With eight seconds left Freeman had to throw up an off-balance jumper that was blocked, and the game was virtually sealed when Clark was standing on the baseline as he grabbed the rebound. After two free throws by Hardy and a desperation heave by Wright, the Hoyas walked off the Garden court as losers to the Red Storm for the third consecutive time.

Hardy finished with 20 points to lead all scorers.

The lone bright spot for the Hoyas was sophomore forward Hollis Thompson, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Meanwhile, Clark and Freeman each had seven points, while Wright had six. The trio came into the contest averaging 46.1 points per game.

“We need Chris, Austin, and Jason to score points. That’s not a secret,” John Thompson III said. “Do we have to find other ways to win when they’re not putting the ball in the basket? Yes. Do I feel confident that on nights like tonight we can do that? Yes. I don’t think this game was lost because of them not scoring points. It’s just plays at the other end of the court that we had to make, that we didn’t make.”

The Hoya defense wasn’t completely porous, holding the Red Storm to 41.7 percent shooting from the field. But Georgetown couldn’t come up with stops when it needed them, and was only able to force four turnovers on the game. The Hoyas gave the ball away 12 times in comparison.

Of course, the Hoyas were hardly at their best on the offensive end. Just like in their conference opening loss to Notre Dame, the normally sharpshooting Hoyas couldn’t find their touch from beyond the arc. Georgetown shot just 23.5 percent from long range (season average: 40.3 percent), and the Big Three were even worse, combining to go 2-for-13. Wright was the worst offender, finishing 1-for-7 on treys.

“I don’t think I’m forcing shots. I don’t think I’m doing anything uncharacteristic,” Wright said. “I’m going to continue to shoot the ball and I’m going to knock it down. I’m just going to keep playing and I’m going to eventually start hitting shots.”

The Hoyas finally get a break after their grueling stretch to open the conference, with their next game against West Virginia not for five days.

“I think it’s a rough start for us,” Hollis Thompson said. “[But] it’s early in the season so we’ve got to keep preparing ourselves and bounce back and move on, because we’ve got a lot more games coming up.”

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In all of the games they have lost, Starks hasn’t played. You can argue that’s because he is prepared, as a freshman, to lead Georgetown back. What one could also argue is that JTIII will leave Wright in the game, even when he’s misses 4 or 5 consecutive shots, turns the ball over, and plays lax defense. If the Big 3 are playing poorly. Thompson needs to sit at least one of them. Such a break may motivate Wright, Freeman, and Clark or enable them to grab a breather. Lastly, if these guys are going to continue to drop Big East games then you mine as well build for the future.