Freeman plays through pain in comeback win

February 13, 2011

As star senior Austin Freeman lay on the ground hurt late in the first half against Marquette, it looked as if Georgetown’s seven game winning streak was in jeopardy. But Freeman played through the pain of a sprained ankle to help lead the Hoyas to a 69-60 comeback victory.

In the locker room after the first half, Freeman knew he could still be effective.

“It didn’t hurt as much while I was playing,” he said after the game. “I told the trainer that I was going to play anyways, so I just told her to tape me up and I just went back out there.”

Freeman came back out to the court just before the second half started, and his return, which drew loud applause from the 14,284 in attendance, coincided with renewed vigor from his teammates. Despite shooting only 25.9 percent from behind the arc, the Hoyas managed to overcome a 35-31 halftime deficit, largely thanks to defensive intensity.

Georgetown (20-5, 9-4 Big East) held Marquette (15-10, 6-6 Big East) to 25 points on 31.8 percent shooting in the second half. The biggest difference for the Hoyas was the amount of second chance opportunities they allowed. Marquette had 10 second chance points in the first half, but none in the second after the Hoyas tightened up on the boards.

“We’ve got to start doing a better job on the boards, which the young man to my left did an outstanding job of.” head coach John Thompson III said, referring to Hollis Thompson. “And [we] started making the hustle plays. They were getting every loose ball, they were making the hustle plays in the first half, and in the second half I thought we were.”

The sophomore Thompson was the unsung hero of the game, pulling down a career high 13 rebounds despite only scoring five points. He swiped two steals as well. The forward didn’t take all the credit for controlling the glass in the second half, however.

“I think my teammates did a great job boxing out which allowed me to come in and get the boards,” he said. “As a team we really focus on getting down there and all five of us getting the boards.”

On the offensive end the Hoyas were paced by Freeman and fellow senior Chris Wright. Wright committed five turnovers, but he kept the Hoyas in the game by scoring a team high 20 points, including 5-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc.

“I was beating myself up after the game because I made a couple of bad plays down the stretch,” Wright said. “[My] time management wasn’t good. It was tough. It’s just how games go sometimes.”

Where Wright came up short, his teammate Jason Clark picked him up. Clark only scored six points, but like Thompson, seemed to be everywhere on the court. He had four assists, two steals, a block and zero turnovers. He was the perfect compliment to the senior point guard.

The Hoyas will travel to face Kemba Walker and the UConn Huskies on Wednesday night, where they will look to extend their winning streak to a season-high nine games. Even though the Hoyas are playing their best basketball of the season, they know it won’t get any easier.

“We don’t need to be reminded that you have to play well to win in the Big East,” coach Thompson said. “Every game you have to scrap, and you have to fight to win in this conference.”

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