Considering the amount of time Georgetown spent at the stripe on Saturday, it was only appropriate that the game would be decided by free throws. And considering how the Hoyas had shot the ball from the field, they were fortunate not to have to deal with any defenders.
Otto Porter sank both free throws with eight seconds to go, and the No. 10 Georgetown (16-3, 6-2 Big East) prevailed 52-50 over Rutgers (11-9, 3-4 Big East) in what had to be the Hoyas’ ugliest game this season.
Georgetown won while converting just 12 field goals, including only three in the first half. Ultimately, the Hoyas shot only 29.3 percent from the field, but they were bailed out by an aggressive Scarlet Knights defense that sent them to the line 36 times.
“I’ll give Georgetown credit,” Rutgers head coach Mike Rice said. “Their offense was brutal for a while. They just hung in there and hung in there and found a way to win.”
Calling the Hoya offense brutal may be an understatement. Georgetown managed to shoot 50 percent in the second half, but they opened the game just 3-for-23 from the field. It wasn’t just the Hoyas’ jump shots either—they missed a number of layups and short opportunities in the post.
“Sometimes you’re having a bad offensive day, and it’s because the other team is disrupting you,” Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said. “I thought today, this was maybe the second time this year where there was a lid on the basket.”
That lid was the reason the Hoyas held the lead for all of one minute and 26 seconds all game. But it was their defense that kept them in the game, and in the final two minutes it came together with Porter’s offense to finally put the Hoyas ahead.
The Hoyas were down by four with less than two minutes to go when sophomore Nate Lubick stole the ball and fired an outlet pass to Porter which the freshman converted for a fast break layup, one of Georgetown’s few easy baskets all day. On the ensuing possession, senior guard Jason Clark’s tight defense prompted an offensive foul by Rutgers freshman Eli Carter. Porter struck again on the offensive end, knocking down a jumper after finding a hole in the Scarlet Knights’ zone defense near the free throw line.
With the game now tied and 1:02 left on the clock, the Hoyas’ put together their best defensive possession of the game. Georgetown shut down Rutgers for 35 seconds, forcing an off balance three-pointer as the shot clock expired.
After Thompson called timeout, the Hoyas were positioned to take the final shot. They wouldn’t get a chance, however, as Rutgers’ Mike Poole was whistled for a foul on Porter away from the ball. After Porter’s free throws, Carter missed a desperation runner as time expired.
“There were some bizarre plays, some bizarre whistles, that before I get into it I’d like to look on replay to see if they were the correct call,” Rice said after the game. “It was interesting the last two minutes that it was decided by a whistle by a certain individual referee who decided to take it upon himself to decide the game.”
Porter scored the final six points for Georgetown and finished with nine points and four rebounds. Senior center Henry Sims posted a double-double, leading the Hoyas with 12 points and 10 rebounds while also blocking three shots.
Carter led all scorers with 14 points.
The Scarlet Knights led by as much as seven with 12:11 to go in the game. Shortly thereafter, Thompson went to a lineup with three freshmen (Porter, Greg Whittington, and Jabril Trawick) and two seniors (Sims and Clark). The group played together for almost eight minutes, carrying the Hoyas to their first lead since before halftime. Whittington in particular took over, scoring seven straight points in a stretch after missing multiple layups earlier in the game.
“Everyone misses shots,” Whittington said. “I wasn’t expecting myself to miss a layup, but I just kept my composure and my confidence and kept going.”
Composure and confidence has seemingly become the norm for the Hoyas’ talented freshman class. In a game that had the makings of a disaster, Thompson entrusted his youngest players with the most important minutes, and they didn’t disappoint.
“At this point of the year, we’re not thinking of anybody as a freshman,” Thompson said. “They’ve been through too much, played too many games, are too important.”