Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

MEN’S BASKETBALL | Hoyas Edge Cardinals for Fifth Straight

MARISSA AMENDOLIA/THE HOYA Senior forward Julian Vaughn blocks Louisville junior guard Chris Smith. Vaughn finished with four rejections on the evening.
Senior forward Julian Vaughn blocks Louisville junior guard Chris Smith. Vaughn finished with four rejections on the evening.

Senior point guard Chris Wright motored from zero to 24 in just one game, as No. 13 Georgetown (17-5, 6-4 Big East) defeated No. 15 Louisville (17-5, 6-3 Big East), 62-59, on Monday night, in front of a crowd of 12,000 at Verizon Center. The Hoyas have now won five consecutive games, including two straight against ranked opponents, thanks in part to an improved defense since the team’s return from its New Jersey road trip.

“[The defense] is better,” Head Coach John Thompson III said of the Hoyas’ man-to-man defense. “The guys are beginning to take ownership is the way I’ll phrase it. You have to guard your man, and your teammates are going to help you.”

Wright led all scorers with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting just 48 hours after not scoring any points against Villanova on Saturday. Wright did carry over his superb defense from Philadelphia, helping to limit reigning Big East player of the week Peyton Siva to just five points. The sophomore guard committed eight turnovers in a game in which Louisville shot just 35 percent from the field. Georgetown, meanwhile, shot a whopping 77 percent in the second half on 13-of-17 shooting.

With the Hoyas clinging to a one-point lead with six seconds left, Wright was fouled and nailed both of his free throws, completing an 8-of-8 performance from the charity stripe. That made it a three-point game, prompting a desperate three attempt by Siva at the buzzer. The ball bounced off the backboard, and Wright and fellow seniors, guard Austin Freeman and forward Julian Vaughn, embraced at half-court as the Blue and Gray moved into a tie for fourth place in the conference standings.

Both teams overcame sloppy first-half performances, combining for just 40 points at the break; the two squads came into the game averaging a combined 154 points per game. The Hoyas converted just 31 percent of their shots from the field, and Louisville was worse with a 26 percent success rate. The Cardinals also turned the ball over 11 times, and Georgetown was marginally less sloppy, with eight first-half giveaways.

“I think you had two teams that were pretty good defensive teams,” Thompson said. “[Louisville] leads the conference and are one of the top teams in causing turnovers, and we are playing defense better than we have been right now, so I don’t think it’s any carryover, residual, positive, negative effect from Saturday. I think it was just two good defensive teams.”

Despite the Cardinals’ shooting woes, the Hoyas lost an 11-point lead during a five-minute, 17-6 run by Louisville midway through the second half.

“They got back into the game with a couple threes,” Wright said. “At the timeout, I think they went into their press and we weren’t executing as well as we wanted to. We just had to be patient and attack them. Their press is very aggressive. They don’t sit back and wait for you to come to them.”

From there it was a see-saw game. Louisville appeared on the verge of taking control at the four-minute mark, leading 54-53, when junior guard Kyle Kuric was fouled shooting a three-pointer. Kuric missed two of his three shots, and then the Hoyas rocked downtown Washington.

First, Wright drove to the hoop, and through a lot of contact, somehow managed to stick out his arm and get his finger roll to go in, five feet from the hoop. After sophomore forward Hollis Thompson grabbed a key defensive rebound on a long-range Louisville miss, Vaughn set a perfect screen to free up Thompson for a three-pointer. Thompson’s shot made it 58-55, Hoyas, and the Blue and Gray never trailed again.

“I came in and Julian [Vaughn] set a great screen to create an open shot,” Thompson said. “I wasn’t thinking about it as a time to score, but I probably should have. I just took it.”

Despite going 0-for-6 from the field, junior guard Jason Clark hit two free throws with 25 seconds left to put the Hoyas back up by three. Freeman contributed a quiet 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Wright added five rebounds and three assists, and Vaughn posted 10 points, five boards and four blocks.

Louisville junior forward Terrence Jennings led the Cardinals with 18 points and seven rebounds, as the visitors dominated the offensive glass. The Cardinals had 20 second-chance points compared to the Hoyas’ five and grabbed 14 offensive boards. In a last-minute, nine-second period, Louisville tried desperately to tie the game, grabbing three offensive boards in succession.

Georgetown will next face Providence (13-9, 2-7 Big East) on Saturday. Tip-off is slated for noon at Verizon Center.

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