Fast Break: Hoyas steal win from Pirates

January 20, 2011

For the first half of their game against Seton Hall on Tuesday, the Georgetown men’s basketball team looked poised to continue its recovery from a disappointing Big East start with a comfortable win. The Hoyas had the result they wanted 20 minutes later. But getting the win was anything but easy.

Georgetown (14-5, 3-4 Big East) bounced back from a 19-2 Seton Hall (8-11, 2-5 Big East) run early in the second half to pull out an 80-75 victory in the closing minutes. After scoring 25 points against Rutgers on Saturday, Austin Freeman once again defended his status as Big East Preseason Player of the Year with an incredibly efficient 28 points.

But after exiting the locker room for the second half with a seven point lead, the Hoyas nearly collapsed, allowing the Pirates to outscore them by a 17-point margin over an eight-minute stretch. The run gave Seton Hall a lead it would not relinquish until the final two minutes of the game.

The final half was reminiscent of their previous conference losses to St. John’s and West Virginia. In both of those games, a favored Georgetown squad hung tight but could not surpass its supposedly inferior opponents, leading to a couple of close losses. Unlike in those games, however, the Hoyas avoided potential misfires and played strong down the stretch to prevail.

Also unlike in previous losses, Georgetown got a bona fide star performance from Freeman. The senior guard shot 10-for-13 from the field with three treys while going perfect on his five free throw attempts. He added five rebounds, three assists, and a block for good measure. Freeman passed Allen Iverson to become Georgetown’s 13th all-time leading scorer.

Freeman got help from fellow senior guard Chris Wright, who had 17 points, six rebounds, and six assists, and sophomore forward Hollis Thompson, who scored 14 points. Jeff Robinson led the Pirates with 21 points.

The Hoyas never trailed by more than seven, but they weren’t able to put themselves over the top until Seton Hall senior forward Herb Pope (16 points, nine rebounds) fouled out with 2:11 left in the game. The foul allowed Freeman to make two shots from the free throw line, and after a defensive stop, Georgetown tied the game when center Julian Vaughn scored easily without the Pirates’ dominant big man defending him. That was the Hoyas’ last field goal, but they hit six of seven free throws in the final minute to win the game.

It wasn’t the way the Hoyas wanted to win the game, but after losing three straight to drop to 1-4 in conference play, they were surely happy to finish a two-game sweep of their New Jersey road trip. As for the flaws that allowed them to give up a 19-2 run, they have a long seven days to correct them before a rematch with St. John’s.

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